9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 3rd, 2020

Explained: The five ‘iconic’ archaeological sites mentioned in the Budget

News: The Government has proposed to set up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the Ministry of Culture, and develop five archaeological sites as “iconic sites” with onsite museums.

Facts:

Site Location About
Rakhigarhi Hissar, Haryana One of the most prominent and largest sites of the Harappan civilisation
Hastinapur Meerut, Uttar Pradesh finds mention in the Mahabharata and the Puranasmost significant discoveries made at this site was of the “new ceramic industry”, which was named the Painted Grey Ware
Sivsagar Assam Served as the capital of the Ahom Kingdom from 1699 to 1788. Various constructions and artifacts belonging to the kingdom have been discovered
Dholavira   Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat One of the sites of Harappan Civilization
Adichnallur Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu Famous for discovery of an ancient Tamil-Brahmi script on the inside of an urn containing a full human skeleton, a fragment of a broken earthenware, and the remains of living quarters.

Explained: What is Archimedes Principle, used in Jharkhand to rescue an elephant

News: Authorities applied the Archimedes Principle, or the ‘upward buoyant force theory’, to bring the elephant out of the well in Gumla district, Jharkhand.

Facts:

Archimedes Principle

  • Discovered by the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes.
  • It refers to the law of buoyancy–the ability or tendency of something to float in water or other fluids.
  • According to the principle, when an object is completely or partially submerged in a fluid, whether gas or liquid, it is acted upon by an upward force (buoyancy) equal to the weight of the fluid it has displaced.
  • The force acting downward on the object is the weight of the object.
  • The difference between the two forces is the net force acting on the object.
  • If the buoyant force is more than the weight, the object rises; if it is less, the object sinks.
  • If the net force is zero, the object neither rises nor sinks.
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Navy conducts coastal security exercise ‘Matla Abhiyaan’

News: The Indian Navy carried out a five-day coastal security exercise, “Matla Abhiyaan” along the riverine border with Bangladesh

Facts:

  • The exercise is named after Matla River.
  • It aims to interact with coastal communities to spread awareness on coastal security. It also seeks to understand the navigational complexities in the Sunderban deltaic waters.

Additional Information:

Matla River:

  • It is a tidal river in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
  • It forms a wide estuary in and around the Sundarbans.
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India, Maldives sign five MoUs for establishing Addu Tourism zone

News: India and Maldives signed five MoUs for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in islands of Addu atoll.

Facts:

  • Addu is a city in Maldives that consists of the inhabited islands of the Addu atoll
  • Addu Atoll, also known as Seenu Atoll, is the southernmost atoll of the Maldives. It has a number of other inhabited and uninhabited islands.
Seenu atoll.png

Additional Information:

  • Atoll: An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef which surrounds a body of water called a lagoon.
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 Budget 2020: Social sector push with enhanced allocations for welfare schemes

Facts:

Social Welfare: Key Highlights

  • 14% increase in the budget allocation for ministry of social justice and empowerment and a 7.5% increase in that of tribal affairs ministry.
  • Programmes that have seen the highest increase include pre matric scholarships for children of workers involved in manual scavenging (400%), fellowships for OBCs (71.4%) and overseas fellowships for OBCs (133%)
  • A national action plan for drug demand reduction with an allocation of Rs 260 crore has been introduced.
  • Enhanced allocation of about Rs 9500 crore for 2020-21 for senior citizens and Diviyan

Women and Child

  • 35,600 crore rupees for nutrition-related programmes in 2020-21
  • Task force to be appointed to look into the issue of young girls entering motherhood.
  • An outlay of about Rs 28,600 crore for programs that were specific to women.

15th Finance Commission report

News:The Finance Minister has tabled the interim report of the 15th Finance Commission recommendations.

Facts:

About 15th Finance Commission:

  • The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India under the chairmanship of NK Singh.
  • The term of the commission was originally set to end in October 2019 but was extended to November 30, 2019.
  • Its recommendations will cover a period of five years from April 2021 to March 2026.

Interim report recommendations:

  • It has recommended 41% share for states from Centre’s divisible pool in 2020-21 while making a special provision of 1% for the new Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. 
  • It has recommended an allocation of Rs 28,983 crore for disaster risk management in 2020-21, in addition to disaster response funds through setting up of mitigation funds at both state and national level. 
  • However,the Commission has not yet set aside funds separately for defence spending needs.It said that a special committee will be set up to examine the same.

Additional information:

About Finance commission:

  • The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.
  • The Commission is appointed every five years.It consists of a Chairman and four other members.

Functions of Finance Commission 

  • The Commission makes recommendations to the President of India on the distribution of tax proceeds between the Union and the States and the share of each state.
  • The Commission also decides the principles that govern the payment of grants-in-aid to states from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The President of India can also refer any other matter to the Finance Commission in the interest of building a sound financial system.

Explained:Meet the poets the FM quoted in her Budget speech

News:The Finance Minister has quoted four poets in her Budget speech namely Pt. Dinanath Nadim, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar and Kalidas.

Facts:

About Dinanath Nadim:

  • Dinanath Nadim was born in 1916.He wrote in Kashmiri, Hindi and Urdu.
  • He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for his opera Shuhul Kull (The Shady Tree). 
  • Well-known works : Vitasta (Jhelum River), Safar Taa Shehjaar (The Journey And The Shade) and Bombur Taa Yemberzal (The Bumble Bee And The Narcissus Flower).

About Avvaiyar:

  • Avvaiyar translates to “Respected Woman”.It is the title which was used by several women poets who contributed to Tamil literature during different periods of time.

About Thiruvalluvar:

  • Thiruvalluvar or Valluvar is a Tamil poet and philosopher.He is believed to have lived between 3rd-4th century or 8th-9th century.
  • He is best known as the author of Thirukkuṛaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters and love.

About Kalidas:

  • Kalidas is a legendary Sanskrit scholar.He is believed to have lived during the middle of the fourth and early fifth centuries AD during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya and Kumaragupta.One of his famous works is Raghuvamsa.

Budget announces implementation of Nirvik Scheme

News:The Finance minister has announced the NIRVIK (Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana) scheme in the Budget 2020.

Facts:

About NIRVIK Scheme:

  • Aim:To provide a) enhanced insurance cover b) reduced premium for small exporters and c) Simplified procedure for claim settlements.
  • Ministry:The scheme is being prepared by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Features of the scheme:

  • Under the scheme,the insurance cover guaranteed will cover up to 90% of the principal and interest.The insurance cover will include both pre and post-shipment credit.
  • At present,the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation(ECGC) provides a credit guarantee of up to 60% loss. 

Significance of the scheme:

  • The scheme will help make Indian exports competitive and make ECGC procedures exporter friendly, benefiting MSME exporters.
  • The insurance cover is also expected to bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims.

Budget 2020:Dividend Distribution Tax

News:Union Budget has proposed to abolish the dividend distribution tax(DDT) at the company’s level.The dividend income will now be added to the taxable income of the recipient and taxed at the applicable rate.

Facts:

About Dividend Distribution Tax(DDT):

  • A dividend is a return given by a company to its shareholders out of the profits earned by the company in a particular year.They are usually given in proportion to the number of shares owned.
  • Dividend distribution tax(DDT) is the tax imposed by the Indian Government on indian companies according to the dividend paid to a company’s investors.

Is Dividend Distribution Tax fair?

  • Currently, companies are required to pay DDT on the dividend paid to its shareholders at the rate of 15% plus applicable surcharge and cess in addition to the tax payable by the company on its profits.
  • It has been argued that the system of levying DDT results in an increase in tax burden for investors and especially those who are liable to pay tax less than the rate of DDT, if the dividend income is included in their income.
  • Further, non-availability of credit of DDT to most of the foreign investors in their home country results in reduction of rate of return on equity capital for them.

Budget 2020:Investment Clearance Cell

News:TheFinance Minister has proposed setting up of ‘Investment Clearance Cell’ for young entrepreneurs.

Facts:

About Investment Clearance Cell:

  • The Investment Clearance cell will be a pan-India single-window clearance system for entrepreneurs.
  • It will be setup by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT).
  • The cell will give investors free investment advisory, land banks and facilitate clearances even at state level.
  • It will onboard all central government related procedures and clearances in a single online form. 

Additional information:

Budget on Startups:

  • Government has proposed to come up with a policy on the setting up of Private Centre Data Parks which will provide a major lift to startups that bank heavily on consumer data for their businesses.
  • Startups with turnover of up to Rs 100 crore can claim 100% deduction on their profit for computing tax liability for three consecutive years out of 10 years since its incorporation.
  • Government will soon set up a digital platform to ease registration of Intellectual Property Rights(IPRs) developed by entrepreneurs and startups.
  • The Knowledge Translation Clusters are to be set up under new and emerging sectors as well. It will design, fabricate and validate proof of concept.
  • Government will directly provide seed funding to support ideation and development of early-stage startups in India.

Budget 2020:Taxation and Governance 

News:The Finance minister has announced the Vivad Se Vishwas scheme in Budget 2020-21 that would help in reducing litigation.

Facts:

About Vivaad se Vishwas Scheme:

  • Vivaad se Vishwaas is an amnesty scheme aims at reducing tax litigations pending at various forums.
  • Under the proposed scheme, a taxpayer would be required to pay only the amount of the disputed taxes and will get complete waiver of interest and penalty provided he pays by March 31, 2020. 
  • Those who avail this scheme after that will have to pay some additional amount. The scheme will remain open till June 30, 2020. 

Taxpayer Charter:

  • Budget allocated funds to institutionalize a Taxpayer Charter.This is to ensure fairness and avoid harassment in the quest of collecting taxes from the citizens. 
  • Only three countries in the world so far have enshrined the rights of taxpayers, namely Canada, Australia and the US.Through taxpayer charter, India also joins the list.

National Recruitment Agency:

  • Government has announced a National recruitment agency to be set up for all computer based examinations for recruitment in government and public sector banks for non-gazetted posts.

National Policy on Official Statistics:

  • The Government of India will soon unveil a National Policy on Official Statistics.The policy is being prepared as the government is looking to address data quality issues with regard to various surveys.
  • The policy aims at providing timely, credible economic and social data to the people.

Budget 2020:National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Application

News:In Budget 2020,the Finance Minister has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications(NM-QTA).

Facts:

About the Quantum Technology:

  • Quantum Technology is based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level. 
  • Quantum principles can be used for engineering solutions to extremely complex problems in computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanics.
  • However,the Quantum field has not yet matured for commercialization, due to the extreme scientific challenges involved.

About the mission:

  • The mission will be implemented for a period of 5 years by the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • The mission aims to address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society and take into account the international technology trends for development of next generation technologies.
  • It will also help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.
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