Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 June 2017
Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 June 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.
‘DigiYatra’- A New Digital Experience for Air Travellers
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is adding a Digital experience for Air Travellers through DigiYatra Platform.
What you need to know about DigiYatra?
The ‘DigiYatra’ is an industry-led initiative co-ordinated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation aimed at transforming the nation into a digitally empowered society.
‘DigiYatra’ initiative aims to bring together entire industry to develop a digital ecosystem that will deliver Indian customers a seamless, consistent and paperless service experience at every touch point of their journey.
The platform will be built on 4 key pillars, like Connected Passengers, Connected Airports, Connected Flying and Connected Systems which can make it possible over a period of time for passengers to:
- Plan their trips efficiently by identifying price trends and estimate future airfares at the time of ticket booking,
- Optionally link their Aadhaar to airlines and other ecosystem players at the time of booking for faster airport entry and automated check-ins without requiring any paper-based interventions,
- Walk-through security scanners swiftly owing to advanced biometric security solutions,
- Receive relevant information pertaining to various facilities, protocols, airline timings, queue lengths at airports etc.,
- Engage in customised digital offerings at experience zones,
- Get real time notifications about congestion and delays to have greater visibility on the next step of journey,
- Conveniently navigate through the airport using digital guidance systems, interactive kiosks and augmented reality apps,
- Stay connected during flights and indulge in immersive experiences. Also, book in-flight services and destination based offerings digitally,
- Get a prompt when their luggage reaches the baggage claim belt, and
- Submit grievances, share experiences and provide feedback.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notifies new Safe Harbour Regime
In order to reduce transfer pricing disputes, to provide certainty to taxpayers, to align safe harbour margins with industry standards and to enlarge the scope of safe harbour transactions, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has notified a new safe harbour regime based on the report of the Committee set up in this regard. It has come into effect from 1st of April, 2017. The safe harbour regime is optional to taxpayers.
The salient features of the new Safe Harbour Regime are:
- Assessees eligible under the present safe harbour regime up to AY 2017-18 shall also have the right to choose the safe harbour option most beneficial to them.
- A new category of transactions being “Receipt of Low Value-Adding Intra-Group Services” has been introduced.
- The new safe harbour regime is available for transactions limited to Rs. 200 crore in provision of software development services, provision of information technology-enabled services, provision of knowledge process outsourcing services, provision of contract research and development services wholly or partly relating to software development and provision of contract research and development services wholly or partly relating to generic pharmaceutical drugs.
- In respect of transactions involving provision of software development services and provision of information technology-enabled services, safe harbour margins have been reduced to peak rate of 18% from 22% in the previous regime.
- In respect of transactions involving provision of knowledge process outsourcing services, a graded structure of 3 different rates of 24%, 21% and 18% has been provided, based on employee cost to operating cost ratio, replacing the single rate of 25% in the previous regime.
- In respect of transactions involving provision of contract research and development services wholly or partly relating to software development and provision of contract research and development services wholly or partly relating to generic pharmaceutical drugs, safe harbour margins have been reduced to 24% from 30% and 29% respectively in the previous regime.
- Risk spreads on intra-group loans denominated in foreign currency will be benchmarked to the 6-month London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (LIBOR) as on 30th September of the relevant year and on loans denominated in Indian Rupees to the 1-year SBI MCLR as on 1st April of the relevant year.
Know about CBDT:
The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. The officials of the Board in their ex-officio capacity also function as a Division of the Ministry of Finance dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.
- The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. It provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
- It is India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
- The Central Board of Revenue as the Department apex body charged with the administration of taxes came into existence as a result of the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1924.
- Initially the Board was in charge of both direct and indirect taxes. However, when the administration of taxes became too unwieldy for one Board to handle, the Board was split up into two, namely the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Central Board of Excise and Customs in 1964.
- The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS), a premier civil service of India, whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Nanoparticles to treat eye infection
Scientists at the Hyderabad-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) have developed a novel way to treat fungal keratitis.
What is it?
Treating keratitis infection is currently a challenge because it is difficult to maintain a therapeutic dose at the corneal surface for long periods as blinking and tear formation washes off the drug. To address this challenge, scientists have developed protein-based nanoparticles that encapsulate the drug.
- Certain antibodies get attached to the outer surface of the nanoparticles, thus anchoring the nanoparticles to the corneal surface. The infected cornea expresses a set of receptors (TLR4) when infection sets in. Scientists have used antibodies to these receptors to anchor the nanoparticles to the cornea.
- If the infection is severe, more receptors are expressed on the cornea and more nanoparticles get bound to the receptors. Since they are bound, the residence time in the eye is long; neither blinking nor tear formation washes off the nanoparticles.
- The enzymes secreted by fungi breaks down the gelatine protein of nanoparticles that encapsulates the drug, thus releasing the drug. Like in the case of the receptors, more enzyme is secreted when infection is severe leading to more drug being released from the nanoparticles.
- The gelatine protein acts as an alternative nutrient for the fungi. The fungi also degrade the gelatine-based nanoparticle to derive nutrients thus minimising the damage to the corneal tissue. In the process it releases the drug. In a sense, the fungi are committing suicide by consuming the gelatine protein.
Know about Keratitis?
Keratitis is the inflammation of the eye, which starts with redness and itching and might eventually lead to blindness.
- Keratitis can be caused by both bacteria and fungi. Fungi attach themselves to the cornea and release enzymes that break down the corneal proteins for their nutritional requirements.
- In the process the cornea also gets inflamed. Corneal damage causes wound and scar formation leading to severe visual impairment. It is estimated that about 30% of keratitis cases in India lead to blindness.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
DGFT may come under Revenue dept.
The Centre is considering a proposal to shift the entire Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) office to the Department of Revenue (DoR) from the Department of Commerce (DoC) — as part of measures to simplify processes relating to export and import.
- The suggestion — billed as a major trade facilitation measure and in line with the Centre’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ initiative — was mooted recently by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in the DoR within the Finance Ministry.
Know about DGFT:
Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) organisation is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is headed by Director General of Foreign Trade. Right from its inception till 1991, when liberalization in the economic policies of the Government took place, this organization has been essentially involved in the regulation and promotion of foreign trade through regulation.
- Keeping in line with liberalization and globalization and the overall objective of increasing of exports, DGFT has since been assigned the role of “facilitator”. The shift was from prohibition and control of imports/exports to promotion and facilitation of exports/imports, keeping in view the interests of the country.
- The DGFT’s role includes Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) formulation and implementation — to in turn boost India’s exports. It is manned mainly by the Indian Trade Service (ITS) cadre officials, but is usually headed by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
Implications of the new move:
If the proposal is accepted, the DGFT will be placed within the DoR and staffed entirely by Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officials. To enable an IRS official to head the DGFT, a new post — Principal/Chief Commissioner (Foreign Trade) equivalent to Additional Secretary to Government of India (the rank of the official currently heading the DGFT) — will be created.
What necessitates this move?
This is to better utilise the Department of Commerce’s resources (including ITS cadre officials) in ‘core focus areas’ such as FTP formulation as well as in India’s trade negotiations. This is also to ensure greater ease of doing business.
The shifting of DGFT office would require amendments in the concerned laws — the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulations) Act and the Customs Act.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
$1 mn fund to bolster BRICS media
Chinas state-run news agency Xinhua has announced a USD one million fund to institutionalise media cooperation among the BRICS countries including awards for journalists from the five member states. This was announced at the recently held BRICS media forum.
- The plan will promote six objectives, including “balanced reporting”— a view shared by several speakers at the forum, who called for alternative media narrative, which did not take the cue from Washington or London.
- The proposal would also focus on joint development of BRICS digital media, financial information services and promoting people- to-people contacts.
Journalists from 27 media organisations from BRICS countries took part in the BRICS Media Forum. The forum with the theme Deepening media cooperation among BRICS countries, promoting equity and justice in international media was proposed by Xinhua and jointly initiated with Brazils CMA Group, Russias Sputnik News Agency and Radio, the Hindu Group of India and South Africas Independent Media.
Know about BRICS:
BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 43% of the world population, having 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.
- The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs” on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and would be amongst the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
- As a formal grouping, BRIC started after the meeting of the Leaders of Russia, India and China in St. Petersburg on the margins of G8 Outreach Summit in 2006. The grouping was formalized during the 1st meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of UNGA in New York in 2006. The 1st BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009.
- It was agreed to expand BRIC into BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010. Accordingly, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China in April 2011.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Only PSUs may be let to make Oxytocin
After being banned in retail markets, the Drug Controller will soon restrict manufacturing of controversial hormone drug Oxytocin to public sector undertakings (PSUs).
Know about Oxytocin:
Oxytocin has also been dubbed the love hormone, hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.
- Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
- It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
- The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.
Why its sale is being limited?
The drug is used by diary owners and farmers to boost milk production and make vegetables look bigger and fresher. But, it was found that indiscriminate use of Oxytocin in milch animals and by farmers was causing irreversible hormone damage.
Despite it being a Schedule H drug, it is impossible to prevent its manufacturing at registered private factories. Implications to human health are humongous, from reproductive complications to hormonal imbalances. One major reason for such blatant misuse of this drug is the absence of robust veterinary services in India.
In March 2016, the Himachal Pradesh High Court directed the Central government to “consider the feasibility of restricting the manufacture of Oxytocin only in public sector companies and also restricting and limiting the manufacture by companies to whom licences have already been granted.” The manufacture and sale of Oxytocin without a licence is a cognisable.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
World’s oldest fossil mushroom discovered:
- The world’s oldest fossil mushroom – dating back to about 115 million years – has been discovered in Brazil.
- The mushroom has been named Gondwanagaricites magnificus and belongs to the Agaricales order.