Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 January 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 January 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

CMs Committee on Digital Payments presents interim report to the Prime Minister

 

The CMs Committee on Digital Payments led by the convener and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri Chandra Babu Naidu has submitted the interim report on Digital Payments to the Prime Minister.

 

Important recommendations made by the committee:

  • The panel has recommended a ban on cash transactions beyond a threshold and a tax on payments beyond Rs 50,000.
  • It has recommended a subsidy of up to Rs 1,000 for smartphones purchased by those who do not pay income tax as well as small merchants in addition to lowering or doing away with the merchant discount rate or the fee paid on card and online transactions.
  • The committee also said there was a need to strengthen security , expand infrastructure and increase awareness for greater adoption of digital payments.
  • The panel has also proposed tax sops for domestic production of micro ATMs and biometric sensors, along with a subsidy of 50% to merchant points using Aadhaar Pay , which will use fingerprint or iris scan.
  • The panel has also suggested that all 1.5 lakh post offices should have infrastructure to deal with Aadhaar-enabled micro ATMs and there should be inter-operability for banking correspondent via Aadhaar-enabled payment system.

 

Way ahead:

Some proposals related to disincentivising cash may find traction as the Supreme Court-appointed SIT on black money, too, had suggested a cap on cash transactions as well as a limit on how much an entity could hold in physical form. Although the proposal to levy a cash transaction tax has found support, a section within the government is not in favour of this as it believes incentives will yield better results.

Sources: pib.


 

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.

 

National Action Plan for Children, 2016

 

National Action Plan for Children, 2016 (NPAC) was recently launched at a special function held to celebrate the National Girl Child Day in Delhi. The NPAC has been developed by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

 

It seeks to ensure the following:

  • The Action Plan has four key priority areas; survival, health and nutrition; education and development; protection and participation.
  • The NPAC defines objectives, sub-objectives, strategies, action points and indicators for measuring progress under the four key priority areas and also identifies key stakeholders for the implementation of different strategies.
  • The plan also puts focus on new and emerging concerns for children such as online child abuse, children affected by natural and man-made disasters and climate change, etc.
  • The strategies and action points largely draw upon the existing programmes and schemes of various Ministries/Departments. However, for new and emerging issues related to children; it also suggests formulation of new programmes and strategies, as required.
  • The plan takes into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides a roadmap towards achieving them though co-ordination and convergence with different stakeholders.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

NPCC in Namami Gange Programme

 

Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Uma Bharti has called for active involvement of NPCC into Namami Gange programme.

  • Complimenting NPCC, the Minister said that NPCC successfully carried out projects in such far flung areas where no one dares to enter.

 

About NPCC:

NPCC was established on January 09, 1957 as a premier construction company to create necessary infrastructure for economic development of the country in the core sectors of irrigation and water resources, power and heavy industries under Ministry Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

  • NPCC comply with quality management requirements of ISO 9001-2008 for execution of civil works for Thermal & Hydro Electric Projects’, River valley projects, Industrial structures, Project Management consultancy services for buildings, Housings, Roads, Bridges and Infrastructure projects.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

 

Prime Minister’s Shram Awards for the year 2015 Announced

 

The Government has announced the Prime Minister’s Shram Awards for the year 2015 to be awarded to 56 workers employed in the Departmental Undertakings & Public Sector Undertakings of the Central and State Governments and Private Sector Units employing 500 or more workers.

  • The awards are given in recognition of their distinguished performances, innovative abilities, outstanding contribution in the field of productivity and exhibition of exceptional courage and presence of mind.

 

About Shram Awards:

The Prime Minister’s Shram Awards were instituted in 1985 by the Government of India. This national award is conferred on workers for outstanding contributions that improve productivity, innovation, and indigenization, resulting in saving foreign exchange. The award is also given for long-term exceptional dedicated work.

The objective of the Prime Ministers Shram Awards is to recognize the outstanding contributions made by workmen as defined in the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 in organizations both in public and private sector and who have distinguished record of performance, devotion to duty of a high order, specific contribution in the field of productivity and proven innovative abilities among others.

 

They are four types of awards:

  1. Shram Ratna: Rs. Two lakhs and recognition of their contribution to their field (a Sanad).
  2. Shram Bhushan: RS. 100000 and a Sanad.
  3. Shram Vir / Shram Veerangana: RS. 60000 and a Sanad.
  4. Shram Devi / Shram Shree: RS. 40000 and a Sanad.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Cabinet approves Indian Institute of Management Bill, 2017

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the Indian Institute of Management(IIM) Bill, 2017, under which the IIMs would be declared as Institutions of National Importance which will enable them to grant degrees to their students.

 

Following are the salient features of the Bill:

  • IIMs can grant degrees to their students.
  • The Bill provides for complete autonomy to the Institutions, combined with adequate accountability.
  • Management of these Institutions would be Board driven, with the Chairperson and Director of an Institution which will be selected by the Board.
  • A greater participation of experts and alumni in the Board is amongst other important features of the Bill.
  • Provision has also been made for inclusion of women and members from Scheduled Castes/Tribes in the Board.
  • The Bill also provides for periodic review of the performance of Institutions by independent agencies, and placing the results of the same on public domain.
  • The Annual Report of the Institutions will be placed in the Parliament and CAG will be auditing their accounts.
  • There is also a provision of Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body.

 

Background:

Indian Institutes of Management are the country’s premier institutions imparting best quality education in management on globally benchmarked processes of education and training in management. IIMs are recognized as world-class management Institutions and Centers of Excellence and have brought laurels to the country. All IIMs are separate autonomous bodies registered under the Societies Act.

Being societies, IIMs are not authorized to award degrees and, hence, they have been awarding Post Graduate Diploma and Fellow Programme in Management. While these awards are treated as equivalent to MBAs and Ph.D, respectively, the equivalence is not universally acceptable, especially for the Fellow Programme.

Sources: pib.


 

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.

 

Govt launches Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana

 

The Union Cabinet has given its post-facto approval for the launch of the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017.

 

Key facts:

  • The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year.
  • It aims to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme is meant to provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly/quarterly/half-yearly or annual basis.
  • The difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis.
  • VPBY-2017 is proposed to be open for subscription for a period of one year from the date of launch.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Cabinet approves ratification of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol

 

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to ratify the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).

 

Significance of this decision:

  • This decision underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
  • Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by India will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise.
  • Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under this commitment period in accordance with Suslainable Development priorities will attract some investments in India as well.

 

About Kyoto protocol:

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and the 1st commitment period was from 2008-2012. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the “Marrakesh Accords.”  

  • At Doha in 2012, the amendments to Kyoto Protocol for the 2nd commitment period (the Doha Amendment) were successfully adopted for the period 2013- 2020. Developed countries have already started implementing their commitments under the ‘opt-in’ provisions of the Doha Amendment. So far, 75 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations.
  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Tax guidelines to target shell companies notified

 

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued guidelines on the ‘place of effective management’, or POEM, of a company to determine its tax liability. POEM rules target companies that were set up abroad to retain income outside India but are controlled from India.

 

What is POEM?

The Place of Effective Management is defined in the Income Tax Act to mean “a place where key management and commercial decisions that are necessary for the conduct of the business of an entity as a whole are, in substance, made.”

 

Key facts:

  • According to the guidelines, a company will be deemed to be engaged in active business outside India if the passive income is not more than 50% of its total income and less than 50% of its total assets are situated in India, less than 50% of the total number of employees are situated in India or are resident in India, and the payroll expenses on such employees is less than 50% of the total payroll expenditure.
  • These rules will not be applicable to firms with annual turnover of less than RS 50 crore. Under these guidelines, Active Business Outside India test has been provided so as not to cover companies outside India which are engaged in active business.
  • Adequate administrative safeguards have been incorporated in the guidelines by mandating that the assessing officer (AO), before initiating an inquiry for POEM in a case of a taxpayer, will seek approval from Principal Commissioner or Commissioner of Income-Tax. The AO shall also obtain approval from a Collegium of Principal Commissioners of Income-Tax before holding that POEM of a non-resident company is in India.
  • In cases of “companies other than those that are engaged in active business outside India”, the determination of POEM will be a two-stage process. The first stage would be identification or ascertaining the persons who actually make the key management and commercial decision for conduct of the company’s business as a whole. The second stage would be determination of place where these decisions are in fact being made.

 

Background:

The concept of POEM to decide the residential status of a company was introduced by the Finance Act, 2015. The modification to the existing norms was necessary as several companies skip tax liability by misusing the guidelines. This will protect the business interests of both global companies having business connection with India or presence here, and Indian multinationals having active business abroad.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

‘69% of political funds from unknown sources’

 

The report of an analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on the income of national parties was recently released.

 

Highlights of the report:

  • The total income of national and regional political parties between 2004-05 and 2014-15 stood at ₹11,367 crore, with the highest of ₹3,982 crore being the Congress’s share. However, 69% of the income of these parties was from unknown sources.
  • The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313% during the decade; for the regional parties, it went up by 652%. The BSP is the only party which has got 100% of its income through donations from unknown sources. Its total income increased by 2,057%, from ₹5.19 crore during 2004-05 to ₹111.96 crore during 2014-15.
  • The total donations above ₹20,000 per entry, for which the national parties are to declare the sources, was about ₹1405.19 crore and the BJP topped the list for declaring the maximum of ₹918 crore voluntary contributions in the category. The donations declared by the BJP are more than twice the donations declared by the Congress during the same period.
  • According to the ADR, the Income-Tax returns of 42 of the 51 regional parties analysed were unavailable for at least one financial year. The total declared income of regional parties during the period stood at ₹2,089 crore, the highest being that of the Samajwadi Party at ₹819 crore.

 

Way ahead:

Based on the findings, the ADR has recommended that full details of all donors be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the United States and Japan.

The report also mentioned that any organisation that receives foreign funding should not be allowed to support or campaign for any candidate or political party.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

Child vulnerability map: 

  • A district-wise map depicting problems facing children across the country was recently released by the ministry of women and child development as a part of the National Plan of Action for Children.
  • Prepared by NGO Childline India Foundation, the ‘Child Vulnerability Map’ covers 409 of total 678 districts in the country.
  • It highlights vulnerabilities like child marriage, child trafficking, missing and runway children, child labour, children affected by civil unrest, child sexual abuse, dropouts and low literacy rate, malnutrition, foeticide, HIV and AIDS affected children.
  • Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra have been highlighted on the map as child trafficking-prone states, while are Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as worst-affected by malnutrition.
  • Northeastern states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, have fared poorly in tackling child malnutrition.

 

Nepal recognises employment in India as foreign: 

  • Nepal has formally recognised migration of its countrymen to India for employment purpose as “foreign employment” and bring them under the insurance coverage for the first time.
  • After the government’s recognition, Nepali migrant workers in India will be entitled to receive insurance coverage up to $12,812 for critical illness and life insurance.