E-assessment scheme

News:Finance Ministry has notified the e-assessment scheme 2019.

Facts:

Objective of the scheme:The scheme aims to conduct faceless scrutiny assessment of income tax returns (ITR). 

E-assessment structure:

  • National e-assessment centre: Will issue notice to taxpayers.It will have four bodies under it
  • Regional e-assessment centres: Will get cases from national body, conduct enquiry and pass draft assessment order
  • Verification unit: To verify documents
  • Technical unit: Will give assistance depending on cases referred
  • Review unit: To conduct review of draft assessment order passed by regional centres. Final order to be passed by national body

Features of the scheme:

  • The scheme makes it mandatory for the taxman to make communication with taxpayers online.Tax notices will be issued by a centralised e-assessment centre requiring taxpayers to reply only through digital mode.
  • The cases selected for scrutiny shall be allocated to assessment units in a random manner and notices shall be issued electronically by a Central Cell without disclosing the name, designation or location of the assessing officer. 
  • Further,the tax administration would move to digital from the system of manual scrutiny.They would use data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other latest tools to ascertain misreporting or evasion.

Regulation of non-personal data: MeitY sets up new committee

News:Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(Meity) has formed a new Committee of Experts to focus on non-personal data.

Facts:

About the committee:

  • The committee is headed by the Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishna.
  • The committee is mandated to to study various issues relating to non-personal data and to make specific suggestions for consideration of the central government on regulation of non-personal data.

Why was this committee formed? 

  • The draft Personal Data Protection Bill by Srikrishna Committee only dealt with personal data.It had recommended that the government should come up with a law to protect non personal data.

What is non-personal data?

  • Non-personal data is usually held by large commercial entities like cab-aggregators, e-commerce companies that use the community data generated on their platforms to improve their services. 
  • This is in addition to anonymised datasets also being provided to government bodies and departments by large internet companies to assist in policy making.

Additional information:

Draft Personal Data Protection Bill,2018:

  • The draft of Personal Data Protection Bill,2018 is based on the recommendations of the government-constituted panel headed by Justice BN Srikrishna.
  • The Bill regulates the processing of personal data of individuals (data principals) by government and private entities (data fiduciaries) incorporated in India and abroad.
  • The bill provides individuals several rights with respect to their data such as seeking correction or seeking access to their data which is stored with the fiduciary. 
  • The bill says that government and private entities has certain obligations towards the individual while processing their data such as notifying them of the nature and purposes of data processing.
  • The Bill allows exemptions for certain kinds of data processing such as processing in the interest of national security for legal proceedings or for journalistic purposes.
  • The Bill requires that a serving copy of personal data be stored within the territory of India.Certain critical personal data must be stored solely within the country.
  • A national-level Data Protection Authority (DPA) is to be set up to supervise and regulate data fiduciaries.

Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)

News:Union Human Resource Development Minister has launched the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020.

Facts:

About ARIIA:

  • Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.
  • It aims to systematically rank all major educational institutions and universities on indicators related to promotion of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development amongst their students and faculties.

Major Indicators for ranking are:

  • Budget & Funding Support.
  • Infrastructure & Facilities.
  • Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
  • Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
  • Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
  • Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
  • Innovation in Governance of the Institution.

Significance of ranking:

  • It will in setting up the direction for Higher Education institutions(HEIs) towards streamlining and establishing a strong startup ecosystem in campus and region.
  • It is also aimed at uplifting India’s Position in the Global Innovation Index from 52nd to top 30 in a time period of 5 Years.

Pangong Tso lake

News:Indian and Chinese Army soldiers were engaged in a face-off near the northern bank of Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh.

Facts:

About Pangong Tso lake:

  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow landlocked lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • The brackish water lake freezes over in winter and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo.
  • One-third of the lake which is around 45km is in Indian control while the rest of the 90 km is under Chinese control.

Significance of the lake:

  • The lake does not have major tactical significance.But it lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory. 

India-China Dispute:

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) cuts through the lake but India and China do not agree on its exact location.
  • In 1999,when the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay,China took the opportunity to build 5 km of road inside Indian Territory along the lake’s bank.
  • Hence,most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.

Indian Institute of Skills

News:Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has laid the foundation stone of Indian Institute of Skills(IIS) at Mumbai.

Facts:

  • The Union Cabinet had given its nod to set up an Indian Institute of Skills (IISs) in three cities namely Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kanpur to give boost to the Skill India Mission.
  • These institutes will be constructed and operated on a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model and on a not-for-profit basis.

About the Institute:

  • The IIS will be a tertiary care institute in the skills ecosystem to offer courses in emerging and high demand areas. 
  • This institute will be on the lines of the Institutes of Eminence including IITs and IIMs.
  • The objective of the institute is to provide skill training in highly specialised areas such as deep technology, aerospace, among others to students who want to pursue technical education after completing Class X and XII.
  • Tata Education Development Trust(TEDT) was selected as the private partner for setting up IIS at NSTI campus in Mumbai through a competitive bidding process. 

Additional information:

About Skill India mission

  • National Skill Development Mission also known as Skill India Mission was launched in 2015.
  • The mission envisages convergence, coordination and harmonization of the fragmented skilling efforts of various Ministries in Government of India and other key stakeholders.
  • The mission is implemented through the instruments of Common norms, implementation of National Skills Qualification Framework and data integrations through the Skill India Portal.

Samudra Laksamana

News:Indian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy will be participating in the bilateral exercise ‘Samudra Laksamana’ that will take place from 12th to 15th September 2019.

Facts:

About the Exercise:

  • The exercise would include a harbour phase wherein professional interactions, official calls, social engagements, visits by the local populace and various sports events would be conducted. 
  • The Sea Phase of the exercise would enable the two navies to further hone their skills in order to enhance interoperability between the navies to ensure peaceful and secure seas for all.
  • On the Indian side,Indian Navy ships Sahyadri and Kiltan will take part in the exercise.

Additional information:

About INS Sahyadri and INS Kiltan:

  • INS Sahyadri is a Shivalik-class stealth multi-role frigate built for the Indian Navy.
  • INS Kiltan is an anti-submarine warfare corvette of the Indian Navy.It is the third of four Kamorta-class corvettes under various stages of induction with the Indian Navy.
  • The two ships are equipped with a versatile array of weapons and sensors.
  • They can carry multi-role helicopters and represent the ‘coming of age’ of India’s warship building capabilities.

Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub

News:India has joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub as a new member.

Facts:

About the Hub:

  • The Global research and development hub on antimicrobial resistance was launched in May 2018 on the sidelines of the 71st session of the World Health Assembly.
  • The hub consists of 16 members nations.It also has the European Commission, two philanthropic foundations as members and four international organisations as observers.
  • The hub supports global priority setting and evidence-based decision making on the allocation of resources for AMR R&D through the identification of gaps, overlaps and potential for cross-sectoral collaboration and leveraging in AMR R&D.
  • The operations of the hub are supported through a Secretariat, which is established in Berlin, Germany. 
  • The Hub is currently financed through grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).

How will India benefit from the Hub?

  • By partnering with the Global AMR R&D Hub,India can work with all partners to leverage their existing capabilities, resources and collectively focus on new R&D intervention to address drug-resistant infections.

Additional information:

About antimicrobial resistance: 

  • Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microorganism like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites to stop an antimicrobial such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and antimalarial from working against it.
  • The World Health Organization(WHO) recognises AMR as a serious threat to global public health.

Institution’s Innovation Council (IICs)

News:Union Human Resource Development(HRD) Minister has launched the Institution’s Innovation Council (IICs) 2.0.

Facts:

About IICs:

  • Union HRD Minister had launched the ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) program under Innovation cell of MHRD in 2018.
  • The purpose of formation of network of IICs is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years.
  • The model of IICs operates in hub and spoke format and ensures round the year activities related to innovation, entrepreneurship and IPR in campus.
  • More than 1000 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have already formed IICs in their campuses and enrolled for the IIC network managed by MHRD’s Innovation cell

Salmonella

News:United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has tested the MDH sambar masala which showed positive for salmonella.

Facts:

About Salmonella:

  • Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses known as salmonellosis. 
  • Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces.Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.
  • The symptoms of Salmonella include nausea, diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after contracting the infection.
  • Usually, the illness lasts for 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified Salmonella as one of four key global causes of diarrhoeal diseases.

Uniform Civil Code

News: The Supreme Court has said that the Indian government had made no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code even though the makers of the Constitution had expressed hope for such a law.

Facts:

What is uniform civil code?

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.

What the constitution says?

  • Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. 
  • According to article 44,”The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.

Why India needs a Uniform Civil Code?

  • To provide equal status to all citizens
  • To support the national integration
  • To bypass the contentious issue of reform of existing personal laws
  • Various Courts judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code.

Problems in the implementation of UCC

  • Practical difficulties due to diversity in India
  • Perception of UCC as encroachment on religious freedom
  • Time is not yet suitable for this reform as there is a major opposition from several communities.

Law Commission’s stand:

  • In 2018, Law Commission of India consultation paper had said that the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage in the country.The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.

Additional information:

Uniform Civil Code in Goa:

  • Goa was a former Portuguese colony.It was annexed into the Union of India in 1961.In 1987,Goa was made a separate state.
  • The Uniform Civil code(UCC) was introduced in Goa by the erstwhile Portuguese rulers.It was retained even after the territory was merged with India in the year 1961. 
  • It is the only state in the country where uniform civil code is applicable to all regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.

312 Sikh foreigners removed from post-militancy ‘adverse list’

News:Government has removed the names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals from the local adverse lists commonly known as ‘Black Lists’.

Facts:

About Black list:

  • Black list is is maintained by Indian Embassies in different countries and posts abroad.
  • It contains a list of Indian-origin people who have taken asylum i.e right to international protection in this other country abroad under plea of alleged persecution in India.
  • Those who are in the list are denied visa services by Indian missions and posts in respective country.

Why were Sikhs blacklisted?

  • The Operation Blue Star in 1984 involved Army action at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab.
  • Many Sikhs protested the Army action and were alleged to be involved in anti-national activities.Subsequently they sought political asylum in foreign countries.
  • Indian intelligence agencies gave a list containing their names to all Indian embassies and high commissions.Consequently,these individuals were blacklisted.

Regulatory Sandbox

News:Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has launched the Regulatory Sandbox system for innovative technology-led entities.

Facts:

About Regulatory Sandbox:

  • Regulatory sandbox(RS) is an infrastructure that helps financial technology (FinTech) players live test their products or solutions before getting the necessary regulatory approvals for a mass launch.

IRDAI Regulatory sandbox:

  • For the regulatory sandbox,an applicant should have a net worth of Rs 10 lakh and a proven financial record of at least one year.
  • Companies will be allowed to test products for up to 12 months in five categories.
  • These five categories are namely (a)insurance solicitation or distribution (b)insurance products (c)underwriting (d)policy and (e)claims servicing.

Benefits of Regulatory Sandbox:

  • The regulatory sandbox will help fintech companies launch innovative products at a lower cost and in less time.
  • The sandbox will enable fintech companies to conduct live or virtual testing of their new products and services.
  • These companies will also be able to test the viability of the product without a wider and expensive rollout.
  • It will help companies to experiment with fintech solutions, where the consequences of failure can be contained and reasons for failure analysed.

Additional information:

About Fintech:

  • Financial technology (Fintech) is used to describe new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services.

About IRDAI:

  • The IRDAI is an autonomous,statutory body created by IRDA Act,1999.It was created based on the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee. It’s headquarters is in Hyderabad.
  • The functions of IRDA includes (a)regulating the insurance industry and protects the customers (b)promotion of competition to enhance customer satisfaction and (c)lowering premiums for ensuring the financial security of the insurance sector.