Insights Daily Current Affairs, 01 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 01 Aug 2017


 

Paper 2:

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

 

Govt will investigate restaurants serving foods with liquid nitrogen

 

The government will soon start investigating the issue of restaurants serving food and drinks with liquid nitrogen in it.

 

liquid nitrogenBackground:

The Haryana government had recently banned the use of liquid nitrogen, after a man had ended up with a hole in his stomach after consuming a drink. The Haryana food and drugs administration department issued an order under section 34 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (Central Act 34 of 2006).

 

Why is liquid nitrogen considered harmful for consumption?

Liquid nitrogen, which has a boiling point of -195.8 degree Celsius, is used by molecular gastronomy chefs to instantly freeze food and drinks. As it evaporates, liquid nitrogen freezes everything around it, including tissues that come in contact with it. According to experts, food and drinks that are prepared with liquid nitrogen should be consumed only after all the gas has bubbled off.

Liquid nitrogen also has an expansion ratio of 1:694 at 20 degree Celsius, meaning one litre of liquid nitrogen at 20 degree Celsius can expand to 694 litres of nitrogen gas.

 

What is Liquid Nitrogen?

It is scientifically known as LN2 and is a coloured, odourless, non-inflammable gas. It is a cryogen, which means it is used to create extremely low temperatures. It has a low boiling point of -196 degree Celsius. The gas is so cold that it is capable of rapid freezing any living tissue coming in contact with it.

 

How and Why Liquid Nitrogen Used in Food?

Since past few years, liquid nitrogen is being extensively used by restaurants and food industries to prepare frozen desserts like ice creams, which can be created a moment before serving on the table. It cools any substance immediately. The rapidity of cooling is also responsible for smaller ice crystals which gives a smooth texture to the ice cream.

Recently, it is also being popular in preparing cocktails, as it can immediately chills glasses of ingredients. It also adds a smoking effect to the drink.

 

Are there regulations governing the use of liquid nitrogen?

Liquid nitrogen is permitted as an additive in frozen food as per the guidelines of the national regulatory body Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). However, when it comes to the use of liquid nitrogen it is a gray area. There is no clear-cut guideline for it and generally it is considered to be a novel technique, which can be used by food business operators.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

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

National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017

 

The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, providing for setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes, was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed after dropping Clause 3.

 

What is Clause 3 all about?

Clause 3 pertains to the insertion of a new article 338B about the constitution and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

 

national commission for baBackground:

The bill is meant to upgrade the Backward Classes Commission from a statutory body to a constitutional body, which will give it powers equal to a court to summon people and inquire into incidents of violence and discrimination against backward classes.

 

Way ahead:

The amended bill will now have to be returned to the Lok Sabha for its fresh approval. The Lower House had already passed the bill but in the Upper House it had been referred to a Select Committee as the Opposition had wanted more scrutiny. The Constituent amendment bill’s passage requires two-third majority of those present and voting.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

5 chemicals banned in firecrackers

 

Ahead of the festive seasons of Dussehra and Deepavali, the Supreme Court has prohibited the use of five chemicals, labelled as toxic by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in the manufacture of firecrackers.

  • The banned chemicals include antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in any form whatsoever.
  • The responsibility to ensure compliance particularly in Sivakasi is given to the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO).

 

fire crackersBackground:

The order came after the court heard the submissions from officials of the CPCB and Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation’s (PESO) Firework Research and Development Centre at Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.

 

About PESO:

Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) was formed to control and administer the usage of explosives, petrol stations in India. The agency issues licenses for Operation of Petrol Stations, Licenses to operate Petroleum Product Transportation vehicles, Licenses for Refineries, Petrochemical Complexes, etc. The Department is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives and is headquartered at Nagpur in the State of Maharashtra in India. It functions under DIPP.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

Pakistan yet to transition fully to MFN status for India

 

Pakistan is yet to award the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India and it maintains a negative list of 1,209 items which are not permitted to be imported from India. The neighbouring country allows only 137 products to be exported from India through Wagah/Attari border land route.

 

mfn-status-and-trade-between-pakistan-and-india-15-638Background:

As per a World Trade Organisation (WTO) rule, every member of WTO requires to accord this status to other member countries. India has already granted this status to all WTO members including Pakistan.

 

What is Most Favoured Nation status?

Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners. The importance of MFN is shown in the fact that it is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.

 

MFN at the same time allows some exemptions as well:

  • One such exemption is the right to engage in Free Trade Agreements. This means members can participate in regional trade agreements or free trade agreements where there is discrimination between member countries and non member countries.
  • Another exemption is that members can give developing countries special and differential treatment like greater market access. This special concession are in different forms like reduced tariff rates from developing country imports, concessions that allows developing countries to give subsidies to their production sectors etc.

All these exceptions are subjected to strict conditions.

 

Does MFN mean preferential treatment?

In literal explanation, MFN doesn’t mean preferential treatment. Instead it means non-discriminatory trade that ensures that the country receiving MFN status will not be in a disadvantageous situation compared to the granter’s other trade partners. When a country receives MFN status, it is expected to raise trade barriers and decrease tariffs. It is also expected to open up the market to trade in more commodities and free flow of goods.

MFN essentially guarantees the most favourable trade conditions between two countries. These terms include the lowest possible trade tariffs, the least possible trade barriers and very crucial to trade relations– highest import quotas. The disclaimer only requires equal treatment to all Most Favoured Nations.

 

Sources: et.


 

Paper 3:

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

 

5 lakh businesses opt for composition scheme under GST

 

Five lakh businesses have opted for the GST composition scheme, which allows them to pay taxes at a concessional rate and makes compliance easy.

 

composition-scheme-under-gstWhat you need to know about the Composition scheme?

The composition scheme is an alternative method of levy of tax designed for small taxpayers whose turnover is up to Rs 75 lakh — Rs 50 lakh in the case of eight north-eastern states and the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh. The objective behind it is to bring simplicity and reduce the compliance cost for small taxpayers.

  • The scheme is optional under which manufacturers other than those of ice cream, pan masala and tobacco products have to pay a 2% tax on their annual turnover. The tax rate is 5% for restaurant services and 1% for traders.
  • As per the Central GST Act, businesses are eligible to opt for the composition scheme if a person is not engaged in any inter-state outward supplies of goods and not into making any supply of goods through an electronic commerce operator who is required to collect tax at source.
  • While a regular taxpayer has to pay taxes on a monthly basis, a composition supplier is required to file only one return and pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Also, a composition taxpayer is not required to keep detailed records that a normal taxpayer is supposed to maintain.

 

Sources: et.


Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Methanol a clean, cheaper fuel

 

The government has asked the think-tank NITI Aayog to study the automobile standards developed in China to use methanol as an alternative fuel. Experts believe that Methanol economy will help India use its vast reserves of coal while driving import substitution.

 

methanolMethanol as an alternative fuel:

Methanol is a promising fuel for waterways as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future. Methanol can be blended with gasoline in low-quantities and used in existing road vehicles, or it can be used in high-proportion blends such as M85-M100 in flex-fuel or dedicated methanol-fueled vehicles. Technology is also being commercialized to use methanol as a diesel substitute.

  • Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions — such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — and can improve air quality and related human health issues.
  • Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.
  • As a high-octane vehicle fuel, methanol offers excellent acceleration and power. It also improves vehicle efficiency.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Projects worth Rs 425 crore approved by NMCG

 

The Executive Committee of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved seven projects worth Rs 425 crore in the sector of sewage infrastructure, Ghat development and research.

  • All the six projects will be provided with Operation and Maintenance cost for 15 years by Central government and 100% central assistance.
  • The approved projects will be undertaken in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

 

nmcgAbout National Mission for Clean Ganga:

National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG) acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA was dissolved with the constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council) in 2016.

  • It now works under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The aim is to clean Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner.
  • NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees.
  • The Director General(DG) of NMCG is Additional Secretary in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.

 

Sources: pib.