9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 24, 2021

Dear Friends,  

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs.  

What we sought to do: 

  1. Ensure all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper is available to you readily.  
  2. We have widened the sources so to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9PM brief now covers the following newspapers:  
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. Since the changes are new the number of articles will be initially heavy but can be expected to go down once we have done a good number of articles.  
  4. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.  
  5. Lastly, we will be shortly introducing the relevance part to every article.  

 Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1  

GS Paper 2  

GS Paper 3  

 

Factly Articles  


Mains Oriented Articles


GS Paper 1 

Need to bring an end to the gender technology gap

Source: The Hindu

GS 1: Women empowerment, social empowerment

Synopsis: Access to technology is so crucial to ensure public health and safety. In recent years, health care has largely moved online, and it has resulted in the gender gap in accessing it.

Gender gap in access to technology

    • According to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) estimates,
      • Around 390 million women in low- and middle-income countries do not have Internet access.
      • In South Asia, only 65% of women own a mobile phone.
      • Whereas, In India, only 14.9% of women were reported to be using the Internet.

How Gender gap in access to technology is impairing women’s access to health services?

    • Vaccine registration usually requires a smartphone or laptop. Men are thus more likely to get timely information and register than women and girls.
    • These gaps prevent women and LGBTQIA+ people from accessing critical services.
    • In India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, for example, fewer women than men received the necessary information to survive COVID-19.

Why Women have limited access to technology?

    • Partly, the reasons are due to deeply held cultural beliefs.
      1. One, it is often believed that women’s access to technology will motivate them to challenge patriarchal societies.
      2. Two, there is also a belief that women need to be protected, and that online content can be dangerous for women, and it will expose them to risks.
    • As a consequence, girls and women who ask for phones face suspicion and opposition.

What are the steps being taken to promote gender equality in access to technology?

    • At UN Women, companies are encouraged to sign up and agree to principles that will lead to a more equitable future for all.
    • The Generation Equality Forum has agreed upon the goal to double the number of women and girls, working in technology and innovation.
    • By 2026, they aim to reduce the gender digital divide and ensure universal digital literacy.
    • Further, investments in feminist technology and innovation to support women’s leadership are being pushed forward.
    • The digital empowerment programmes and partnerships such as EQUALS led by UN Women facilitate more girls to choose STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as their academic focus.

Way forward: Neutral world of technology

    • Today, most technologies that are available are created by men, for men, and do not necessarily meet everyone’s requirements. To establish a Neutral world of technology, Companies should start investing in Women related technologies.
    • For example, businesses can design apps specifically towards mothers or apps for women to access telemedicine consultation or digital networks to connect women to informal job opportunities, etc.,
    • Other than apps, built-in features on mobile phones, such as an emergency button connecting women to law enforcement, should also be considered.
    • Companies can benefit hugely if they target Women related technologies because Women and girls are the largest consumer groups left out of technology.
    • According to GSMA, closing the gender gap in mobile Internet usage in low- and middle-income countries would increase GDP by U.S.$700 billion over the next five years.

In the 1950s, dishwashers and washing machines were promoted as a method of emancipating women. Household goods producers, for example, target most of their advertising to women because they often control the household budget. Digital technology could be approached similarly.


GS Paper 2

The Union Government has a unifying effect

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Synopsis:

The term ‘Centre’ is absent in the Constitution as the Constituent Assembly did not want to centralise power. In this regard, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to replace the term ‘Central Government’ with ‘Union Government’ for all official communications.

Background:

    • The Tamil Nadu government has decided to shun the usage of the term ‘Central government’ in its official communications and replace it with ‘Union government’. 
    • It is a major step towards regaining the consciousness of our Constitution as stated in Article 1. The article states that India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
    • The term ‘Centre’ or ‘Central Government’ is absent from 395 articles and 12 schedules of the constitution. But still, the courts, the media and even the States refer to the Union government as the ‘Centre’.

How are courts and media able to use the term central government?

    • Even though we have no reference to the ‘Central government’ in the Constitution, the General Clauses Act, 1897 gives a definition for it.
    • The ‘Central government’ for all practical purposes is the President after the commencement of the Constitution.

What was the intent of our constitutional makers?

    • Initially, the objective resolution wanted to create India as a Union of territories willing to join the “Independent Sovereign Republic”.
    • Many members were of the opinion that the principles of the British Cabinet Mission Plan (1946) be adopted. It contemplated a Central government with very limited powers whereas the provinces had substantial autonomy.
    • The Partition and the violence of 1947 in Kashmir forced the Constituent Assembly to revise its approach and resolve it in favour of a strong Centre. The possibility of the secession of states from the Union weighed on the minds of the drafters of the Constitution and ensured that the Indian Union was “indestructible”. 
    • Hence the term “union of states” was chosen. The members wanted to make it clear that though India was to be a federation, it was not the result of an agreement and that therefore, no State has the right to secede from it.
    • Nonetheless, the term union instead of the federation also got some criticism from members like Hasrat Mohani on the following grounds:
      • The usage of the words ‘Union of States’ would obscure the word ‘Republic’
      • It might create India into a despotic union like Germany at the time of Adolf Hitler
      • It would undermine federalism and bring all the units, the provinces and the groups of States under the thumb of the Centre.

Why was the term ‘Centre’ or Central Government’ avoided?

    • The members of the Constituent Assembly intended to keep away the tendency of centralising of powers in one unit. 
    • The term ‘Union government’ or the ‘Government of India’ has a unifying effect as the message sought to be given is that the government is of all.
    • Both the Union and the States are created by the Constitution, both derive their respective authority from the Constitution. None is subordinate to the other in its own field.
      • For instance, the judiciary is designed in the Constitution to ensure that the Supreme Court has no superintendence over the High Courts. 
      • Though the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over High Courts and other lower courts, they are not declared to be subordinate to it.

The Kashmir outreach and the Afghan storm

Source: The Hindu

GS 2: Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Synopsis:  The center announced few specific objectives towards the development of Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. However, a recent analysis of the stated objectives shows that the center has failed to deliver on its objectives

What are the objectives stated by the Centre after the abrogation of Article 370?

Apart from ending terrorism and violence in J&K, the center promised three specific objectives

    • One, bringing development initiatives and investment from other parts of the country;
    • Two, reclaiming those parts of the territory now occupied by Pakistan and China (PoK and Aksai Chin).
    • Three, ending the rule of political “dynasties” in J&K in favour of a “Naya Kashmir” polity.

Above all, the Government underlined, that the decision to abrogate article 370 was purely an “internal” one, and did not affect India’s ties with any other country.

Had the center delivered on its promise?

No, the Government had failed to deliver on its promised objectives.

    1. First, though terrorism and violence have decreased since 2019, it has come at the cost of massive hardship to the people in the name of security. For example, more than 5,000 people were arrested and the longest Internet shutdown (213 days) was enforced, etc.,
    2. Second, regarding attracting investments to Kashmir, the Government claims that it has more than 400 memoranda of understanding from businesses. However, it can only be confirmed once the money actually comes in.
    3. Third, the objective of reclaiming PoK and Aksai chin also looks impossible after the Chinese aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Further, any future conflict at the LAC would need to account for a two-front “situation” with Pakistan at the Line of Control as well.
        • Moreover, the US pullout from Afghanistan will add to the risk calculus, as the Taliban will get strengthened.
    4. Fourth, the promise of ending the rule of political “dynasties” in J&K is also not delivered. Because currently, the government is engaging with the erstwhile State’s former leaders to discuss the future of the political process of J&K.
    5. Fifth, what India calls an internal issue is being subjected to international pressure. For instance, it has now been discussed in more capitals, including the U.S. Congress, Parliaments in the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), and the Nordic countries, than ever before.
        • In addition, the J&K dispute has been discussed at least three times at the UN Security Council, which had not touched the issue since 1971.

Impact of Geopolitics and Kashmir’s outreach

    • India’s decision to engage the previous leadership, to discuss the restart of a political process and the reversal of the August 5 decision comes not from domestic considerations alone.
    • Similarly, Pakistan’s softening stand towards J&K is borne out of international pressure as well as the sustained threat of a (Pakistan) blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force.
    • For instance, the U.S., keen to complete its Afghanistan pull-out and its negotiations with the Taliban, and nudges from the UAE envoy (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) as “mediation” have been the push factors.

The unseen cost of covid’s long shadow on India (Editorial)

Source: LiveMint 

Syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health 

How Covid-19 impacted other healthcare conditions?  

Context:  

Ever since the inception of pandemic, India’s collective attention, resources and energy of the health system have focused only on the coronavirus. This left every other health-related concern to take a back seat. This covid-induced shadow has already worsened the “routine” ailments of many. 

What is the evidence of neglecting other diseases? 

  1. Even normal immunization schedules and health services for women and children have suffered because of the battle against covid-19. This has so far infected more than 30 million Indians. 
  2. The functioning of National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) was seriously hit by the pandemic.  
    • This result in, more people are approaching hospitals with diseases like cancer at an advanced stage, uncontrolled diabetes, heart ailments, and more. 
    • Around 30% fewer people with cardiac emergencies could reach health facilities in rural areas in March 2021 than last year. 
  3. The recently published National NCD Monitoring Survey (NNMS) showed some important figures.   
    • Two in five adults have three or more risk factors for NCDs. 
    • The longer they stay out of the health system’s radar—either due to fear of covid or due to limited access—the more susceptible they would become to illnesses. 
  4. The lockdowns and restrictions on movement have also changed the lifestyle of people. This has resulted in obesity and increased the risk of diabetes and hypertension. 
  5. Stroke rehabilitation and stroke prevention, adequate and optimal control of stroke risk factors have all taken a hit.  
  6. Fallout on the fight against tuberculosis: India reported a 24% year-on-year fall in tuberculosis registrations last year, according to the India TB Report 2021. This makes India’s pre-pandemic aim to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the global target date a tougher one.  

What will be the expected outcomes of this neglect? 

  1. The already heavy burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)—diabetes, hypertension, kidney ailments and stroke—is almost certain to rise 
  2. Many health experts believe that the health deficit of the early 2020s might leave generational ripples. Even threatening the gains that the country had achieved earlier with decades-old battle against a slew of ailments. 
  3. Another study also showed that the onset of diabetes during the covid era is more severe than in the pre-covid era. 
  4. The study done by the National Cancer Grid, predicted an additional 98,650-131,500 cancer deaths within the next five years. 
  5. World Health Organization (WHO) survey released in May 2020 projected an increase in deaths due to heart ailments, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.  
  6. India is also likely to miss the deadline for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as kala azar and lymphatic filariasis.  

How covid 19 affect other health

Suggestions to focus on overall health care: 

  • Focus on ending the Covid-19 cycle faster: A rapid ramp up in vaccination and concerted efforts to mitigate the third wave of covid will certainly help. It would offer some breathing room for healthcare institutions and provide time to re-focus their attention toward the other treatments such as NCDs and more common ailments 
  • Switch towards digital means: NNMS (National Non-Communicable Disease Monitoring Survey) calls for a rapid spike in the use of telemedicine and teleconsultation. It is particularly important for the treatment of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 
  • Strengthening community-level healthcare: The pandemic experience shown that the lack of access to healthcare services in the prime cause for all these menaces. So, India has to strengthen community level healthcare to improve access to health care and prevent India from future such scenarios. 

India engagement with Afghan Taliban

Source- Times of India

Syllabus- GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Synopsis- India has to be realistic. It has to come to terms with the reality that the Taliban have an upper hand and they might actually come to power.

Introduction-

    • Indian officials have met and held discussions with the Taliban representatives in Doha ahead of the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan
    • This is opportunity for India to reduce Pakistan’s option for playing mischief and protecting its investment in Afghanistan.

Probable motive of India

    • To prevent Pakistan from using Afghanistan as strategic depth against India once the US leaves.
      • Pakistan, as one of the three nations that recognize the Taliban’s government in Afghanistan, has been a key player in the Afghan peace process.
      • A Taliban takeover would certainly empower Pakistan to deploy its Afghan proxies against India, perhaps affecting Kashmir.
    • India also tries to protect its investment in Afghanistan-
      • India has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan as it seeks to strengthen its role in the war-torn country.
      • Major development projects
        • Shahtoot dam, which is expected to cost $250 million.
        • Afghan Parliament, Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam),
        • Along with India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects, hundreds of small development projects of schools, hospitals, and water projects.

Way forward-

  • Given the level of investment, India has made in Afghanistan, India cannot rely on a multilateral approach to protect its interests. In this scenario, India must continue to engage with Taliban.

GS Paper 3 

Adverse impacts of rising inflation

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Synopsis: A rising inflation level adversely impacts the purchasing power of the consumer and discourages lending activities in an economy. India is currently observing an upward trend which may induce RBI to alter its accommodative stance and tilt towards a stricter monetary policy.

Background:

    • RBI has not intervened on high inflation since the onset of the pandemic in order to support growth. It has kept the repo rate unchanged at 4% for more than a year.
    • But the current spell of inflation is over a high base and a continuation of recent trends will persuade it to turn the focus back on inflation.

Inflation levels:

    • Until April this year, only wholesale inflation (WPI) was on the rise, led by fuel and commodity prices. But in May, even retail inflation (CPI) picked up.
    • CPI inflation crossed the RBI’s upper limit of 6 percent after five months. A rise in inflation was observed on both, month-on-month and year-on-year basis.

Impact of Rising Inflation:

    • It hurts lenders and benefits borrowers. For instance, the government stands to benefit as it is the biggest borrower. Rising inflation will lower the national debt load in relation to the size of the economy as it enhances the nominal GDP of a country.
      • The value of past debt and debt servicing costs gets decreased in real terms as inflation rises.
    • It reduces purchasing power and hits private consumption. In the present context, inflation is likely to hit private consumption in rural areas more than in urban areas.
      • This would happen as overall food CPI inflation was lower than non-food inflation since the last past five months.
      • This indicates that what agriculturalists typically sell is rising at a slower pace than what they do not produce, and have to buy from the market.
      • It is an opposite situation from last year when a normal monsoon, a bumper crop, and high food inflation in wholesale and retail markets added to rural incomes.
    • It puts severe stress on producers of goods, especially a rise in WPI level. While producers seem to be bearing a part of the burden of rising input costs for now, these could get passed on in greater measure to consumers once demand recovers.
    • Rising inflation reduces returns on fixed income instruments, including bank deposits, which account for over 50 percent of households’ financial savings.
      • This has already induced a shift to riskier asset classes such as equities, which has ramifications for overall financial stability.

Way Ahead:

    • The RBI will have to closely monitor inflation trends and calibrate its policy response.
    • Further given the need for monetary policy to stay accommodative, it might be time to consider other supply-side interventions. For instance, the government can cut excise rates on petroleum products to soften the inflation blow.

The usual tools are unlikely to fix our inflation problem

SourceLivemint

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy

Context: High consumer and wholesale price inflation along with no/low growth means that India might enter into a stagflation phase. Traditional macroeconomic approach may not be optimum in such case. We need a more comprehensive set of policies to address the peculiar kind of inflation that India is facing.

What is stagflation?

Stagflation occurs when economic output stagnates but inflation keeps rising. It leads to unemployment and poor consumer demand.

These localized micro-level factors and the high-level of uncertainty being faced by households and firms currently, means that inflation will be on incline. In such cases, monetary policy might be ineffective.

What should be done instead?

  • Causes, such as pandemic-driven anxiety, rising uncertainty among consumers and capital scarcityamong producers, require fiscal-monetary support measures that would allow consumer and producer sentiment to improve.
  • Direct income support: On the fiscal front, government should provide greater direct income support through unconditional cash transfersto households, giving them the means to spend.
  • This would help drive both private investment and employment.
  • Unconditional cash support would expand the capacity of all households to make discretionary expenditures.

Why conditional cash transfers in such cases are difficult?

  • Increased allocation for our rural employment scheme would pay only those who work, and that too, on the assumption that there is work in those areas.
  • At a time when infections are rising in rural areas and mutant variants of the virus are infecting unvaccinated groups, little rural employment guarantee work may be available, or worse, people may be too afraid to leave home and go work. Conditional cash transfers in such times are less effective.

Way forward

Going forward, the key to framing a comprehensive response to inflationary tensions would be to pursue a localized and counter-cyclical (contrary to the fluctuations in an economic cycle) fiscal-monetary approach.

  • This should combine the instruments of direct government support with easy liquidity and bank credit provisions, so that firms and households have a wider set of choices.

Conclusion

Fixing supply disruptions solely through monetary policy tools, is likely to prove ineffective. It could even drive other aggregates like consumption and private investment demand into deeper recession.

Terms to know

  • Monetary policy tools
  • Types of inflation

Reviving the Airline Sector

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Synopsis: The government and industry should collaborate to develop a sustainable restart strategy.  Governments need to come up with consistent policies based on evidence. While the industry should do whatever it can to reinstate passenger confidence and embrace new ways of making revenue.

Background:

    • Airlines have been battling uncertainty since March 2020. In April 2020, two-thirds of the global fleet of aircraft was grounded, but essential operations were not halted.
    • By raising private capital, receiving government support, cutting costs to the bone, etc., many airlines have managed to prevent bankruptcy.

Challenges in Reviving the sector:

    • It is not easy for governments to reopen their borders, allow traffic, and still keep the virus away.
    • There exists a high degree of uncertainty regarding the number of years required for returning demand to pre-COVID-19 levels.
    • Further, it would take considerable time to vaccinate all the eligible people across the globe which may impede the revival.
    • Internationally, there is concern that governments may not cooperate or establish shared principles for opening their borders.
      • Further different vaccinations are administered in different countries which would impede the adoption of standard procedures. For example, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are only accessible in 72 and 74 countries, respectively.

Measures to revive the sector:

    • The government and industry should collaborate to develop a sustainable ‘restart strategy’.  Such a strategy should use a science-based approach and specify:
      • dealing with vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers,
      • quarantine and testing measures
      • electronic capture of health data to facilitate international travel
    • For India, the large domestic aviation market is a saviour. The government should do an active collaboration with states for reviving the domestic demand.
      • Local actions need to be taken whenever risks are identified, and a consistent policy should be followed.
      • In recent times, micro-containment zones have been helpful over blanket lockdowns in containing infections.
    • Tools should be developed to continually monitor the risk profiles of different regions.
    • It is time to focus on substituting blanket restrictions with testing, vaccination, and limited quarantine measures.
      • Vaccination can be a requirement to travel but should co-exist with testing regimes.
      • Implementing widespread COVID-19 antigen testing before departure is key for restarting air travel.
    • Digital travel passes and vaccine passports may be another solution. But in order to work, these will require standardization across borders and mutual recognition of vaccines that allow global travel.
    • A network plan needs to be rethought and reworked. As there may be the possibility of different segments in different parts of the network opening and closing depending on the uncertainty of the pandemic and the demand.

The next few years will be challenging for the aviation industry. The actions taken by governments and industry will determine how long it takes for the industry to recover.


What India’s new rules mean for e-marketplaces

Source: Livemint ,Business Standard and Times of India

Syllabus: Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Tags: e-commerce, Draft E-commerce rules

Context: 

The Centre has proposed additions and changes to the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020. This has caused confusion among e-commerce firms and stakeholders.

To whom the new rules applicable?

According to the definition provided in the rules, these rules apply to “all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic networks including digital products”.

These rules apply to 

  • Large marketplacessuch as Amazon, Flipkart
  • Food aggregators Swiggy and Zomato,
  • Single brand e-commerce sites and grocery sites
  • Specialised vertical-led platforms such as FirstCry, Nykaa
  • Taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber
  • Big techsincluding Facebook Marketplace.

What are the major challenges with the rules? 

  • Multiple ministries governing operations of e-commerce firms: The rules come at a time when DPIIT is working to release a separate e-commerce policy and the IT ministry is working on the Personal Data Protection Bill. This is likely to create fresh regulatory bottlenecks, overlaps, and ambiguities in terms of law for e-commerce players in the country.
  • Increase the compliance burden of e-commerce firms: For insta­nce, the rules require all e-com­merce firms to appoint a grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a 24×7 nodal officer.
  • Several proposals require either a change in their existing business model or for them to make product changes. For instance,
  • The rules ask e-tailers to send a notification and suggest “alternative” goods manufactured in India. So, the e-commerce firms not only have to rank goods but also come up with a framework such that the ranking does not discriminate against domestic goods and sellers.
  • No marketplace or e-commerce entity will be allowed to sell goods or services to any person who is registered as a seller on its platform. Companies argue that with such restrictions will be near impossible.
  • Not a level playing field: Offline retail stores often have selected previews and better discounts for their loyalty programme customers. If the argument is to have a level playing field, then the government must create similar rules in the offline market too.

Conclusion: 

Online marketplaces promote competition, enable transparency in terms of product offering, prices, delivery speed and returns. So, the draft policy needs a relook.

Read more:


Factly Articles


 What are class action suits?

Source: Indian Express

Synopsis

The families of 71 people who were killed after Cyclone Tauktae destroyed ONGC’s barge vessels off Bombay High have received compensation. However, India’s laws for negligence and liability are weak and the affected families can do little in terms of filing personal injury suits or class action suits.

What are class action suits?

    • A class-action suit is a legal action or claim that allows one or many plaintiffs to file and appear for a group of people with similar interests. Such a group forms a “class”.
    • A class-action suit derives from representative litigation to ensure justice to the ordinary individual against a powerful adversary.

Can Class Action Suits be compared to Public Interest Litigation(PIL)?

    • A crucial difference is that, unlike a class action suit, a PIL cannot be filed against a private party.

What has deterred the development of class action suits in India?

There are several hurdles namely:

    • Underdeveloped system of torts: A tort occurs when someone commits a wrong against another person. Tort law allows individuals who have had a wrong committed against them to claim damages against the person who has committed the wrong.
    • Lack of contingency fees: The rules of the Bar Council of India do not allow lawyers to charge contingency fees, i.e., a percentage of the damages claimants receive if they win a case. This disincentivizes lawyers from appearing in time-consuming cases that class action suits inevitably are.
    • Third-party financing mechanisms for litigants: Since litigation costs are high, class action suits can be made easier by allowing external parties to fund or sponsor the cost of litigation.

Rajasthan set to get its fourth tiger reserve

Source: TOI

What is the News?

Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary has received a nod from the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s(NTCA) technical committee to become the Tiger reserve.

Note: Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary will become the 4th Tiger reserve of Rajasthan and the 52nd Tiger Reserve of India.

About Ramgarh Vishdhari wildlife sanctuary:

  • Ramgarh Vishdhari wildlife sanctuary is located in Bundi district of Rajasthan.It was notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1982.
  • Area: The area comprising two forest blocks of Bhilwara and territorial forest blocks of Bundi and Indargarh has been identified as a Tiger Reserve.
  • Significance: Ramgarh sanctuary falls under the buffer zone of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR).
  • Villages: The core area of the Ramgarh Vishdhari wildlife sanctuary has eight villages.
  • Flora: It consists of Dhok, Khair, Salar, Khirni trees with some Mango and Ber trees.
  • Fauna: It consists of birds and animals like Leopard, Sambhar, Wild boar, Chinkara, Sloth bear, Indian Wolf, Hyena, Jackal, Fox, deer and Crocodile.

Tiger Reserves in Rajasthan: Currently, Rajasthan has three tiger reserves namely:

  • Ranthambore Tiger Reserve(RTR) in Sawai Madhopur,
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve(STR) in Alwar and
  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve(MHTR) in Kota.

Free foodgrain supply until Nov to cost over ₹67,200 cr

Source: Livemint

What is the News?

Cabinet has approved key decisions related to food grains, merger of CWC and CRWC and deal with Caribbean Island Nations on Tax matters.

About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKY)

    • It was announced as part of the relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Aim: To ensure sufficient food for the poor and needy during the coronavirus crisis.
    • Nodal Ministry: Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
    • Features: Under this, about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries are eligible for an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat). It is provided at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month over and above their regular monthly entitlement.
    • Duration of the Scheme: The scheme was announced in 2020 for three months till July. Later it was extended till November 2020.
      • The scheme is functional once again. Now it has been extended till November 2021.

The merger of CWC and CRWC:

    • Cabinet has approved the merger of Central Warehousing Corp. (CWC), a state-run company with unit Central Railside Warehouse Company Ltd (CRWC).
    • The merger aims to improve efficiency, capacity utilization, and financial savings.
    • Benefits of the Merger:
      • It will lead to the transfer of all assets, liabilities, rights, and obligations of CRWC to CWC.
      • It will unify similar functions of both companies such as warehousing, handling, and transportation under a single administration.
      • It will promote efficiency, capacity utilization, transparency, accountability, and ensure financial savings.

 


CCI probe into Google: What are the allegations?

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

The Competition Commission of India(CCI) has ordered an investigation into the conduct of Google in the smart TV segment over allegations that the company’s agreements with smart TV manufacturers restricted the development and usage of alternate versions of Android.

What are the alleged violations of the Competition Act by Google? According to the order by the CCI, Google requires Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM) that wants to pre-install Google’s app store on their products to sign two agreements:

Television App Distribution Agreement(TADA):

    • It requires manufacturers to pre-install an entire suite of Google applications on their devices and not just any single application.
    • The mandatory pre-installation of all the Google applications instead of allowing OEMs to pick and choose Google apps amounted to the imposition of unfair conditions on the smart TV device manufacturers under the Competition Act.

Android Compatibility Commitment(ACC) Agreement:

    • It requires that OEMs do not use alternate or “forked” versions of Android on any of their devices which could include smartphones and tablet computers.
    • These restrictions by Google reduces the incentives of manufacturers to develop alternate versions of android which is also in violation of the Competition Act.

Excise duty helps fill Centre’s fiscal gap

Source: Livemint

What is the News?

According to the data from the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Excise duty mostly from petrol and diesel has helped the government overcome a major gap in its revenue in FY21.

How much tax do we pay on petrol and diesel?

    • The Union government levies excise duty and cess on fuel and states levy a value-added tax(VAT).
    • Taxes together constitute 58% of the retail selling price of petrol and around 52% of the retail selling price of diesel at present.

How much did the Centre earn on excise duty from Petrol and Diesel?

    • The receipts from excise duty collected mostly from petrol and diesel has increased by almost 63% to ₹3.89 trillion in FY21 from the year-ago period.
    • Moreover, the sharp rise in excise duty receipts has also helped to boost overall tax collections.

What about GST and Direct Taxes?

    • The receipts from goods and services tax (GST) revenue has reduced by 7.6% in FY21 to ₹4.56 trillion.
    • On the direct tax side, the share of corporate tax collections in the Centre’s gross tax receipts too declined in FY21 from a year ago while that of personal income tax remained more or less the same.

Why has Excise Duty from Petrol and Diesel became a major revenue for the Government?

    • The government of India has given full tax rebate to those with taxable incomes of up to ₹5 lakh and revamped the tax slab system to offer a flexible alternative plan to those who do not avail of tax incentives.
    • In addition, businesses not availing incentives and new factories were offered a concessional tax rate regime.
    • Hence, due to this collection of excise duty from Petrol and Diesel has become the preferred revenue source for central and state governments.

MCA expands small firm definition, raises turnover and borrowing limits

Source: Business Standard

What is the News?

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has expanded the definition of small and medium companies (SMC) raising their turnover and borrowing limits.

What are Small and Medium Companies?

    • Small and Medium Companies are unlisted entities
      • that are not banks, financial institutions, or insurance firms.
      • turnover not exceeding Rs. 250 crores (up from 50 crores).
      • and borrowings, not more than 50 crores (up from 10 crores).

Why has the definition been changed?

    • The threshold of Small and Medium Companies (SMC) has been increased to enable a wider set of companies to follow simplified accounting standards.
    • The simplified accounting standards involve less complexity in its application in terms of the number of required disclosures which are less onerous.

India should lower entry barriers for companies wishing to float IPOs. SEBI should be more like SEC

SourceTimesofIndia 

SyllabusGS3 – Indian Economy 

Synopsis: SEBI needs to usher in reforms to make Indian public equity markets more attractive to investors and companies willing to issue IPOs (Initial Public Offer). 

What is an IPO? 

Whenever a company issues its shares first time to the public, it is known as Initial Public Offer (IPO). Issuing shares is a method of raising capital.  

Eligibility criteria for companies willing to float an IPO. 

  • SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has a tougher criterion:  
  • Tangible assets of at least Rs 3 crore 
  • Exhibit average operating profits of Rs 15 crore in the preceding three years with no operating losses in any one of those years. 
  • Net worth of Rs 1 crore in each of the three preceding years. 

Securities and Exchange Board of India 

  • SEBI was established in 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act,1992 (SEBI Act).
  • The basic functions of the SEBI is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote and regulate the securities market.
  • The board of SEBI is a quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial body which can draft regulations, conduct inquiries, pass rulings and impose penalties.
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