9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 6th, 2019

CBDT signs 26 advance pricing agreements in April-August

News:The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into 26 Advance Pricing Agreements(APAs) in the first 5 months of the financial year (April to August,2019).

Facts:

About Advance Pricing Agreements(APAs):

  • APA is an agreement between a taxpayer and tax authority determining the transfer pricing methodology for pricing the taxpayer’s international transactions for future years.
  • APA help taxpayers to voluntarily resolve actual or potential transfer pricing disputes in a proactive,cooperative manner as an alternative to the traditional examination process.

Types of APAs:

  • Unilateral APA involves only the taxpayer and the tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located.
  • Bilateral APA (BAPA) involves the taxpayer,associated enterprise (AE) of the taxpayer in the foreign country, tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located and the foreign tax authority 
  • Multilateral APA (MAPA) involves the taxpayer,two or more AEs of the taxpayer in different foreign countries,tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located,and the tax authorities of AEs.

Importance of APAs

  • APAs gives (a)certainty to taxpayers (b)reduce disputes (c)enhance tax revenues and (d)make the country an attractive destination for foreign investments.
  • These agreements would also lowers complaints and litigation costs as they would be binding on both the taxpayer as well as the government. 

Additional information:

About Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT):

  • CBDT is a statutory authority that functions under the Central Board of Revenue Act,1963.It is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
  • CBDT provides inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for the administration of direct tax laws through the Income Tax Department.

Russia proposes joint development of submarines with India

News:Russia has offered India for joint design and development of advanced conventional diesel-electric submarines under Project 75I.

Facts:

Project 75I

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.
  • Under this project,six new-generation conventional diesel-electric submarines will be constructed. 
  • They will have advanced Air-independent propulsion(AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range. 
  • They will also have a vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, making them capable of anti-surface and anti-ship warfare missions. 
  • Further,they will also feature advanced stealth capabilities such as a greater ability to suppress noise and acoustic signatures. 

Additional information

About Submarine:

  • A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater.A submarine is the quietest military platform and extremely tough to detect.
  • Their main cover is their ability to move stealthily under water and keep an eye on enemy movement of vessels.

Government clears over Rs 5,000 crore Akash missile project for Air Force

News:Government has cleared the procurement of six squadrons of the indigenous Akash air defence missile.

Facts:

Akash missile:

  • The Akash is a medium range Surface-to-air missile with multi-target engagement capability.
  • The missile is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • The missile has a strike range of 25 km.It can reach an altitude of 18 km and can be fired from both tracked and wheeled platforms.
  • The missile is capable of neutralizing advanced aerial targets and in striking down enemy fighter jets and drones effectively.
  • The missile was developed as part of the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Additional information:

About IGMDP

  • The Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was conceived by Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology. 
  • The missiles developed under this programme include (a)Agni (b)Akash, (c)Trishul (d)Prithvi and (e)Nag.

Govt working on setting up nationwide ‘AYUSH Grid’

News:The AYUSH Ministry is in the process of setting up a nationwide ‘AYUSH Grid’.

Facts:

AYUSH Grid:

  • AYUSH Grid aims to connect all hospitals and research labs to record case histories so that a huge amount of evidence can be generated through data analytics about the efficacy of traditional medicine including Ayurveda.

About AYUSH:

  • AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.
  • These systems are based on traditional medical philosophies and represent a way of healthy living with established concepts on prevention of diseases and promotion of health.

Benefits of AYUSH system:

  • AYUSH healthcare is generally cheap and affordable
  • It has lesser side effects.
  • It has proven to be effective in lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

National AYUSH mission:

  • National AYUSH mission was launched in 2014 by the government of India.
  • The basic objective of mission is to promote (a)AYUSH medical systems through cost effective AYUSH services (b)strengthening of educational systems to impart quality AYUSH education (c)facilitate the enforcement of quality control of AYUSH drugs and (d)sustainable availability of AYUSH raw materials.

About Sowa-Rigpa:

  • In 2015,Ministry of Ayush had also included Sowa Rigpa to the AYUSH system.
  • Sowa Rigpa is a traditional Buddhist medicine practised in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas of West Bengal.
  • An international centre to promote Sowa Rigpa is being built in Ladakh.

Measles and Rubella

News: Member Countries of WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) has resolved to eliminate measles and rubella by 2023. Earlier the target set was 2020.

Facts:

  • WHO SEAR member countries have adopted a “Strategic Plan for Measles and Rubella Elimination 2020-2024” at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in Delhi. It lays down the road map and focus areas to achieve the elimination targets in the region.

Additional Information:

Measles and Rubella

  • Measles and Rubella (German measles) are contagious viral disease that is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Measles is caused by Rubeola virus and Rubella is caused by Rubella virus.
  • Measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia
  • Measles and Rubella have similar symptoms. However, rubella is a milder viral infection than measles. Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause foetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome
  • Both of them can be entirely prevent with a two-dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine.

Status of Measles and Rubella in India

  • According to the latest Global Measles and Rubella Update, India reported 47,056 measles cases and 1,263 rubella cases during May 2018 and April 2019

Elimination Efforts

India:

  • India has initiated the world’s largest Measles-Rubella (MR) Campaign in 2017. It targets vaccination of 410 million children and adolescents aged between 9 months and 15 years.
  • It is also covered under Mission Indradhanaush. Launched in 2014, the mission aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against vaccine preventable diseases

Global:

  • Global Vaccine Action Plan: Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, WHO has targeted to eliminate measles by 2020
  • ‘Measles Elimination and Rubella/CRS Control by 2020’: In 2013, WHO SEAR initiated ‘Measles Elimination and Rubella/CRS Control by 2020’ which sought to curb and control measles and rubella through immunization, surveillance and developing and maintaining an accredited measles laboratory network.

WHO SEAR

  • It has 11 member countries- Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, DPR Korea, Myanmar, Maldives and Timor-Leste.

Digital Economy Report 2019

News:United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released the Digital Economy Report 2019.

Facts:

About the report:

  • The report outlines enormous potential gains from the increasingly interconnected global economy but calls for concerted global efforts to spread the wealth potential to the many people who currently reap little benefit from it.
  • The report said that the United States and China create the vast majority of wealth in the digital economy as the two countries account for 75% of all patents related to blockchain technologies and as much as 90% per cent of the market capitalization value of the world’s 70 largest digital platform companies.
  • According to the report,India generated the ninth-highest e-commerce sales globally in 2017 by generating a total business of $400 billion.The contribution of this to GDP was 15%.
  • Further,the report has also said that the only way for developing countries to exercise effective economic ownership and control over the data generated in their territories was to push on mandatory data localisation.

Additional information:

Data localisation:

  • Data localisation is the act of storing data on any device physically present within the borders of a country.Localisation mandates that companies collecting critical data about consumers must store and process them within the borders of the country.
  • The main intent behind data localisation is to protect the personal and financial information of the country’s citizens and residents from foreign surveillance and give local governments and regulators the jurisdiction to call for the data when required.

UNCTAD:

  • UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and part of the UN Secretariat.
  • It was formed specifically to handle the problems of developing countries dealing with trade, investment and development issues.
  • The various other reports published by UNCTAD are (a) World Economic Situation and Prospects Report (b) Trade and Development Report (c)World Investment Report (d) The Least Developed Countries Report, (e) Information and Economy Report (f) Technology and Innovation Report and (g) Commodities and Development Report.

EX TSENTR 2019

News:India will be taking part in this year’s Exercise TSENTR 2019 that will be conducted by Russia from September 9 to 23,2019.

Facts:

About Exercise TSENTR 2019:

  • Exercise TSENTR is part of the annual series of large scale exercises that form part of the Russian Armed Forces annual training cycle.
  • The series rotates through the four main Russian operational strategic commands namely (a)Vostok (East) (b)Zapad (West) (c)TSENTR (Centre) and (d)Kavkaz (South).
  • These annual exercises have taken an international character with Belarus participating in ZAPAD-2017 and China and Mongolia participating in VOSTOK-2018.
  • This year’s exercise will see military contingents from China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan also taking part in the event.

Aim of the exercise:

  • The exercise aims at evolving drills of the participating armies and practicing them in the fight against the scourge of international terrorism thereby ensuring military security in the strategic central Asian region.
  • The exercise will also focus on (a)evaluating the level of troop preparedness (b)the acquisition of the required skills and (c)raising the level of inter- operability and (d)demonstrate the readiness of the participating armies.

28TH Indo–Thai CORPAT

News:The 28th edition of India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) exercise is being conducted from 05–15 September 2019.

Facts:

  • Indo-Thai CORPAT exercise is a bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy.
  • The two countries have been participating in the biannual Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) since 2003.
  • The objective of the exercise is to ensure effective implementation of United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea(UNCLOS) which specify regulations regarding (a)protection and conservation of natural resources (b)conservation of marine environment (c)prevention and suppression of illegal activity (d)prevention and suppression of illegal fishing activity and (e)conduct of Search and Rescue operations at sea.

Additional information 

About UNCLOS:

  • The Law of the Sea Treaty formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica.It entered into force in 1994.
  • The convention establishes a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and to replace previous U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea.This treaty defines the following terms

Internal waters

  • Internal Waters refers to the all water and waterways on the landward side of the baseline of a country.
  • In the internal waters a country is free to set laws, regulate its use and use of its resources. There is no interference of the foreign countries.

Territorial waters

  • Territorial waters refer to 12 Nautical Miles from the baseline.
  • In this area the countries are free to set laws, regulate use and also use its resources.
  • However, the foreign vessels are NOT given all rights to passage through except “Innocent Passage”.
  • The innocent passage refers to the passing through the waters which is not prejudicial to peace and security. However, the nations have right to suspend the innocent passage. The submarine while passing through other country’s territorial waters has to navigate on the surface and show their flags.

Contiguous Zone

  • The contiguous zone refers to the area 12 Nautical Miles beyond the Territorial waters. This means that it is 24 Nautical Miles from the baseline limit.
  • In this zone the country can enforce laws only in 4 areas viz. pollution, taxation, customs, and immigration.

Exclusive Economic Zones

  • Exclusive Economic Zones refers to the area from the edge of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles from the baseline. In this area, the country has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources.
  • The most important reason to introduce EEZ was to halt the clashes over the Fishing Rights and Oil Rights.
  • In the EEZ, the foreign vessels have freedom of navigation and overflight subject to the regulation of the coastal states. Foreign states are allowed to lay submarine pipes and cables.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme

News:Union Minister of Women and Child Development and Textiles will felicitate districts and states which have successfully implemented the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme.

Facts:

Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao(BBBP) scheme was launched in January, 2015.The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
  • The scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
  • The scheme is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of (a)Women and Child Development (b)Health & Family Welfare and (c)Human Resource Development.

Child Sex Ratio

  • Child Sex Ratio is defined as number of girls per 1000 of boys between 0-6 years of age.Hence,a decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment.

Sex Ratio in India:

  • As per the 2011 census,the adult sex ratio in India is 940 females for every 1000 males.
  • The child sex ratio (of children between the ages 0 and 6 years) is far worse at 914 females for every 1000 males.

Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis award

News:The Vatican has honoured Bangladesh Professor Muhammad Yunus with the ‘Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis’ award.

Facts:

  • The Lamp of Peace award is given by the Vatican,Italy.
  • The award aims to honour those who work towards promoting peace and harmony.
  • The award was first given to the Polish trade union leader Lech Walesa in  1981. 
  • Further,the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angela Merkel are a few other prominent persons who had received this award earlier.

Explained: Why the Eastern Economic Forum matters for India

News:Indian Prime Minister has announced to extend a $1 billion line of credit towards the development of the Russian Far East.This was announced at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok,Russia.

Facts:

About Eastern Economic Forum(EEF)

  • The Eastern Economic Forum was established by Decree of the Russian President in 2015.
  • In accordance with the Decree, the Eastern Economic Forum takes place each year in Vladivostok,Russia.
  • The purpose of the forum is to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The events at the Forum traditionally take place in the form of panel sessions, roundtables, televised debates, business breakfasts, and business dialogues devoted to Russia’s relationships with various countries.

Russian Far East:

  • Russian Far East comprises the eastern Russian territory between Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Far East region shares land borders with Mongolia, China and North Korea to its south.Further,it shares maritime borders with Japan to its southeast and with the United States to its northeast.
  • Russian Far East is a resource rich region in a hostile climate.It is rich in oil, natural gas, timber, gold and diamonds among other resources.

India and Eastern Economic forum(EEF):

  • India was the first country to open a consulate in Vladivostok in 1992 after realising the geostrategic significance of Russian Far East.
  • India and Russia are planning to expand the level of trade between the two countries.Hence,an area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.

India’s Foreign Minister’s Visit to Indonesia

News:India’s External Affairs Minister is on a visit to Indonesia.

Facts:

  • India and Indonesia have agreed to improve connectivity between India’s Andaman and Nicobar and Indonesia’s Sabang Island in Aceh.
  • The two countries have also condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
  • They also agreed to work together for a balanced and sustainable trade by providing greater market access both in goods and services to achieve the trade target of $ 50 billion. 
  • India has extended an invitation to Indonesian for joining the launch of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure(CDRI) initiative at the UN General Assembly.

Additional Information

About CDRI:

  • The International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA in September,2019.
  • The CDRI will serve as a platform to generate and exchange knowledge on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  • It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders to create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices with regard to infrastructure development.

North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC)

News: Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (IC) has laid the foundation stone of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) Marketing complex in Guwahati,Assam

Facts:

NERAMAC:

  • The NERAMAC Limited was incorporated in the year 1982 as a marketing organization in the field of Agri-Horti sector of the North-eastern region.
  • It is situated at Guwahati,Assam.It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region(DoNER).
  • It was set up to support farmers of North East get remunerative prices for their produce and thereby bridge the gap between the farmers and the market.
  • It also aims to enhance the agricultural, procurement, processing and marketing infrastructure of the Northeastern Region of India.

Eat Right India Movement

News: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched a campaign to promote Eat Right India Movement

Facts:

About Eat Right India Movement

  • The Eat Right India Movement was launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2018. It is a preventive healthcare measure to trigger social and behavioural change among people.
  • Aim: The movement aims to improve public health in India and combat negative nutritional trends to fight lifestyle diseases.
  • Need for the Movement: India’s disease burden is shifting from communicable to non-communicable diseases and the burden of diet-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity is on a rise. Thus, it has become necessary to sensitise people about healthy eating.

Salient Features:

  • It is built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
  • It collaborates with both the demand side and supply side.
    • On the demand side, it focuses on empowering citizens to make the right food choices.
    • On the supply side, it nudges food businesses to reformulate their products, provide better nutritional information to consumers and make investments in healthy food
  • It brings together three ongoing initiatives of FSSAI:
    • Safe and Nutritious Food Initiative which focusses on social and behavioural change around food safety and nutrition at home, school, workplace and on-the-go
    • The Eat Healthy Campaign which focusses on reduction of high fat, sugar and salt foods in the diet
    • Food Fortification which focuses on promoting five staple foods-wheat flour, rice, oil, milk and salt that are added with key vitamins and minerals to improve their nutritional content.
  • The movement is aligned with the government’s flagship public health programmes such as POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anemia Mukt Bharat, Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Swachh Bharat Mission.

Additional Information:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory, autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

News: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has announced that a Centralised Technology Vertical (CTV) will be set up within CBI

Facts:

Centralised Technology Vertical (CTV):

  • The propose CTV will be operational by 2020. It will help real-time information sharing with investigators across India.

About Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):

  • It is the premier investigating police agency in India. It functions under Dept. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances.

Background:

  • CBI owes its origin to the Special Police Establishment, constituted by the British government in 1941 which was substituted by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.
  • It is an executive body formed in 1963 through a Government of India resolution. The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962-64)
  • CBI’s investigative and jurisdiction powers are governed by the DSPE Act, 1946.

Functions:

  • Investigating cases of corruption and fraud committed by public servants of all Central Govt. Departments, Central Public Sector Undertakings and Central Financial Institutions.
  • Investigating economic crimes, including bank frauds, financial frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cybercrime etc.
  • Investigating special Crimes, such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, sensational homicides, etc.
  • Coordinating the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and the various state police forces.
  • Taking up, on the request of a state government, any case of public importance for investigation.
  • Act as Interpol of India and functions as an interface between the law enforcement agencies of India and other countries to ensure cooperation.
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information

Institution of Eminence

News: The Ministry of Human Resource and Development has awarded the status of Institute of Eminence to five public institutions

Facts:

  • Institutions awarded with status of Institute of Eminence:
    • IIT-Madras,
    • IIT-Kharagpur,
    • Delhi University,
    • Benares Hindu University
    • University of Hyderabad

About Institution of Eminence (IoE) Scheme

  • First announced in 2016 Budget speech, the Institution of Eminence scheme is a scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development pertaining to higher education institutions (HES) in India
  • Aim: To develop 20 world-class teaching and research institutions
  • Objectives:
    • To bring higher educational institutions selected as IoEs in top 500 of world ranking in the next 10 years and in top 100 eventually overtime
    • To provide world class teaching and research facilities to Indian students within the country and enhance general level of education.
    • To pay special attention to teaching and research in unique and emerging areas of knowledge          
  • Regulatory framework: It has been provided through
    • UGC (Declaration of Government Institutions as Institutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017 for public Institutions and
    • UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017 for private Institutions.

Key Benefits of Institutions of Eminence

  • Government Institutions to get additional funding up to 1000 Cr.
  • Complete academic, administrative and financial autonomy
  • Exemption from government approvals for academic collaborations with foreign HES (in top 500)
  • Freedom to hire personnel from industry as faculty, and recruit faculty from outside India (25% limit of its faculty strength)
  • Freedom to have own transparent merit based system for admission of students.
  • Will not be subjected to UGC Inspections

Current Status of scheme: Earlier 6 institutions were selected as IoEs:

  • Public Category
    • Indian Institute of Sciencee (IISc), Bangalore
    • IIT Delhi
    • IIT Mumbai
  • Private Category
    • Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal
    • Birla Institute of Technology& Sciences (BITS), Pilani
    • Jio Institute under the Greenfield category.
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