Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 September 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 September 2016


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Tea Board seeks nod for insurance scheme

 

The Tea Board has sought the Centre’s approval for modifying an insurance scheme meant for workers in small tea gardens.

 

Background:

The Tea Board of India had introduced in July, an accident insurance scheme for workers in small tea gardens at an annual premium of Rs.14. Of this, tea-farmers will have to pay only Rs. 3.50 annually. Oriental Insurance would issue the master-policy in the Tea Board’s name. This scheme was open only to workers.

The initiative would be funded under the 12th Plan scheme. The Centre had made an allocation of Rs.200 crore in a plan of Rs.1,425 crore.

 

What’s the new proposal?

According to the proposal, owners of the small gardens are also eligible under the new plan.

 

Why such move?

As enrolment of workers began for the scheme, it became evident that many small-growers would be left out of the ambit of the scheme in its present form, as they were also owners of small patches of gardens and the scheme was only for small tea garden workers. Hence, the scheme is proposed to be widened to include owner/ growers too.

 

About Tea Board of India:

The Tea Board is set up under the Tea Act 1953. It has succeeded the Central Tea Board and the Indian Tea Licencing Committee which functioned respectively under the Central Tea Board Act, 1949 and the Indian Tea Control Act, 1938 which were repealed.

  • The Tea Board is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce.
  • The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions . The Board is reconstituted every three years.

 

Functions:

  • The Tea Board India is responsible for the assignment of certification numbers to exports of certain tea merchants. This certification is intended to ensure the teas’ origin, which in turn would reduce the amount of fraudulent labelling on rare teas.
  • The Tea Board India’s tasks include endorsement of the diverse production and productivity of tea, financial support of research organisations and the monitoring of advances in tea packaging as it relates to health beneficial aspects.
  • It coordinates research institutes, the tea trade and government bodies, ensuring the technical support of the tea trade in the global industry.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

China’s BRICS trade pact idea finds no takers

 

India and three others in the BRICS bloc — Brazil, Russia and South Africa — have cold-shouldered China’s attempt to bring to the negotiating table a proposal for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the five major emerging economies.

 

What is it all about?

China has proposed for a ‘BRICS FTA’ aimed at boosting trade ties in the grouping through binding commitments on eliminating tariffs.

 

What’s happening now?

BRICS members barring China are not keen on such a pact.

 

Why?

Their apprehensions about the plan include the fear that it could lead to a surge in imports of Chinese goods into their territory — in turn, hurting local manufacturing.

 

Why India is not interested?

There is already a widening goods trade deficit with China. India’s goods trade deficit with China has escalated from $1.1 billion in 2003-04 to $52.7 billion in 2015-16. In 2014, China enjoyed a goods trade surplus with India (to the tune of $37.9 billion).

 

Way ahead:

China is expected to take up this issue in the upcoming BRICS Trade Ministers Meeting, the first BRICS Trade Fair and the Eighth BRICS Summit. India is hosting these events as it currently holds the BRICS Chairmanship.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Magnetars

 

Recently, astronomers picked up strange X-ray bursts using NASA’s Swift telescope. These strange bursts were very similar to that of a magnetar — an extremely dense type of neutron star that can produce magnetic fields trillions of times stronger than our sun’s.

  • The magnetar, called 1E 1613 — at the centre of RCW 103, and the remains of a supernova explosion located about 9,000 light years from Earth — rotates once every 24,000 seconds (6.67 hours).

 

What are Magnetars?

A magnetar is a type of neutron star, a strange object with an incredibly powerful magnetic field that powers the emission of highly energetic X-rays and gamma rays. Neutron stars are formed when the largest stars in the universe reach the end of their lives. When these stars run out of fuel, their core collapses causing outer layers to come crashing in towards the centre.

As stars are so large the crushing forces created can be phenomenal. These pressures can squash the core of the star together and because of this, a neutron star – and hence a magnetar – is made of some of the densest material in the known universe. In fact, their material is so dense that one teaspoon of it contains the same amount of mass as 900 Egyptian pyramids.

magnetars

Key facts:

  • The theory regarding these objects was proposed by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson in 1992.
  • Like other neutron stars, magnetars are around 20 kilometres in diameter and have a mass 2–3 times that of the Sun. The density of the interior of a magnetar is such that a thimble full of its substance would have a mass of over 100 million tons.
  • Magnetars are differentiated from other neutron stars by having even stronger magnetic fields, and rotating comparatively slowly, with most magnetars completing a rotation once every one to ten seconds, compared to less than one second for a typical neutron star.
  • The active life of a magnetar is short. Their strong magnetic fields decay after about 10,000 years, after which activity and strong X-ray emission cease.
  • Given the number of magnetars observable today, one estimate puts the number of inactive magnetars in the Milky Way at 30 million or more.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Sebi nod to launch infra investment trusts

 

More than two years after markets watchdog Sebi had issued guidelines for infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), the regulator has finally granted three companies — IRB Infrastructure, GMR and MEP Infrastructure — to launch the trusts.

  • Accordingly, these companies will float IRB Invit Fund, GMR Infrastructure Trust and MEP Infrastructure Trust shorly as per Sebi.

 

Background:

With a view to help infra developers mop up funds for long-term projects in a more transparent manner, Sebi had in August 2014 introduced InvITs — an investment vehicle that would enable promoters to monetise completed assets.

 

What are InvITs?

An Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvITs) is like a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of small amounts of money from possible individual/institutional investors in infrastructure to earn a small portion of the income as return.

  • InvITs can be treated as the modified version of REITs designed to suit the specific circumstances of the infrastructure sector.
  • InvITS are like mutual funds in structure. InvITs can be established as a trust and registered with Sebi.
  • An InvIT consists of four elements: 1) Trustee, 2) Sponsor(s), 3) Investment Manager and 4) Project Manager.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

CBEC to be renamed as CBIT under GST regime

 

Apex indirect tax body CBEC will be renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Tax (CBIT) once the new national tax framework kicks in from April 1 next year, as per the draft dealing in GST organisational structure prepared by the Centre.

 

Key facts:

  • CBIT will be headed by a secretary-level officer.
  • It will implement the rules, including exemptions and threshold, to be set by the GST Council, which is chaired by Union Finance Minister and has state finance ministers as its members.
  • CBIT will consist of six members, who will look after Customs, policy and IT, central excise and legal issues, training and litigation.
  • Besides, an additional secretary of the department of revenue, who will be secretary to the GST Council, will be a CBIT member for Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) related matters.

 

About CBEC:

It is the nodal national agency responsible for administering Customs, Central Excise, Service Tax & Narcotics in India.

  • It was established in the year 1855 by the then British Governor General of India, to administer customs laws in India and collection of import duties / land revenue.
  • Currently the Customs and Excise department comes under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
  • The agency is staffed by IRS officers.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Task force moots new panel on BPL

 

A task force headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya to prepare a road map for elimination of poverty has submitted its report to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

  • The main task of task force was to prepare a road map for elimination of poverty as well as suggest strategies and anti-poverty programmes.
  • Its terms of reference included developing a working definition of poverty and coordinating and developing synergy with Central Ministries and State government task forces.

 

Suggestions made:

  • The task force has suggested setting up of a committee to identify people below the poverty line (BPL).
  • It has also suggested participation from the States in defining the BPL population.

 

Four options have been proposed for tracking the poor:

  • First, continue with the Tendulkar poverty line.
  • Second, switch to the Rangarajan or other higher rural and urban poverty lines.
  • Third, track progress over time of the bottom 30% of the population.
  • Fourth, track progress along specific components of poverty such as nutrition, housing, drinking water, sanitation, electricity and connectivity.

 

Background:

Official measures are based on the Tendulkar poverty line. But the line is not without its share of controversies, with many terming it being too low. This has prompted the previous government to appoint the Rangarajan Committee, which has recommended higher rural and urban poverty lines.

  • Suresh Tendulkar committee computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, to one U.S. dollar per person per day, which was the internationally accepted poverty line at that time.
  • The PPP model refers to a method used to work out the money that would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two places. Across countries, this is used to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate, the PPP rate, at which a given amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries.
  • Tendulkar, computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent, in PPP terms to Rs 33 per day.
  • Based on the Tendulkar panel norms, the Planning Commission had announced that in absolute terms the number of poor stood reduced from 40.7 crore to 35.5 crore during the period 2004-05 to 2009-10 and and 26.9 crore in 2011-12.
  • Following criticism of these estimates, the UPA Government had in May 2012 set up the five-member expert group, headed by the then Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council C. Rangarajan, to revisit the way poverty is estimated.
  • In the report Dr. Rangarajan committee suggested that persons spending below Rs 47 a day in cities and and Rs 32 in villages be considered poor.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Rio Paralympics 2016- Key facts:

  • India wins historic gold and bronze in high jump.
  • Mariyappan Thangavelu won the gold medal while compatriot Varun Singh Bhati clinched the bronze in the men’s high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics.
  • T-42 is a disability classification in the sport for differently-abled track-and-field athletes with single ‘above the knee’ amputations or a comparable disability.
  • Thangavelu has become the first Indian high jumper to win a Paralympics gold. HN Girisha was the first Indian high-jumper to win a medal, at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
  • He is also the third Indian to win a gold at Paralympics after Murlikant Petkar, who won in Swimming, at Heidelberg 1972 and Devendra Jhajharia who won at Athens 2004 in Javelin Throw.
  • India’s overall medal tally in all Paralympic Games has now stands at 10 – three golds, three silvers and four bronze.

Best Horticulture and Agriculture Awards:

  • Haryana has won ‘Best Horticulture State’ award of the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA).
  • The award was bestowed upon the state for its concerted efforts made to increase the income of the farmers in horticulture.
  • The 2016 Best Agriculture State award was bestowed upon Odisha in recognition of state’s efforts towards development of agriculture and bringing rural prosperity.

Talgo train:

The Spanish Talgo train has completed its final trial between Delhi and Mumbai in less than 12—hours at a maximum speed of 150 km per hour speed, to make a strong pitch for its induction in Indian Railways future venture.talgo-train

  • Talgo aims to reduce travel time between Delhi—Mumbai by four hours. Currently, the super-fast Rajdhani Express train takes around 16 hours between New Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Railways had conducted the first trial run of Talgo trains on the Bareilly—Moradabad stretch in Uttar Pradesh followed by the second trial run was conducted on the Palwal—Mathura section of the North—Central Railway.

Longest metro network:

China’s high-speed railway has completed over 20,000 kms of track network in the country, becoming the world’s longest bullet train network.