Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 September 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 September 2017


 

Paper 1:

 

Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

 

Review of FSI/FAR norms in mega cities

 

The government has ordered the review of Floor Space Index (FSI) and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) norms in mega cities of the country. The time bound review of these norms will be taken up in all the 53 cities with a population of one million and above each. A similar review for State Capitals with less than million population will also be taken up each in due course.  The review to be taken up in consultation with States and cities is to cover an assessment of the existing norms and to what extent it could be enhanced.

 

What is FSI?

FSI is the ratio of a building’s total floor area to the size of the piece of the land on which it is built. In Indian cities, it is generally about 1.50, which is said to be on the lower side given the needs of rapid urbanization.

 

Need for review:

NITI Ayog in their report noted that a comparison of Mumbai and Shanghai illustrates the deleterious effects of restrictive FSI. In 1984, Shanghai had only 3.65 sq.mt of space per person. Through liberal use of FSI, despite increase in population since 1984, the city had increased the available space to 34 sq.mt per person. In contrast, in 2009, Mumbai on average had just 4.50 sq.mt of space per person.

Therefore, review is necessary to give a properly planned push to the urban development in the country. Besides, increasing the availability of land in urban areas is critical to meet the demand for affordable housing under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2:

 

Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

Northeast Venture Fund

 

In a bid to make Northeast a favourite destination for young Startups, the government has invited young start-ups to avail the benefits of Northeast Venture Fund. With its vast unexplored avenues, those looking for livelihood will soon find a potential enterprise in the Northeast, particularly in fruit, food, handicraft and tourism industry.

 

About Northeast Venture Fund:

In addition to the provisions of tax holiday and exit period available in the Government of India’s “Standup India, Startup India” programme, the Ministry of DoNER has also rolled out “Venture Fund” for anybody who wishes to Startup in the Northeast region, which would provide a huge financial relief particularly to young entrepreneurs.

  • Northeast Venture Fund is the first dedicated venture capital fund for North-Eastern region and the initiative to set it up began in April this year.
  • It has been set up by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi), which already has the mandate to encourage entrepreneurship in the region, primarily by offering support to the first-generation entrepreneurs. In addition, the NEDFi also performs the role of hand-holding and capacity building.

 

Sources: pib.


 

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.

 

Private member’s bill proposes MPs also declare assets after term ends

pvt-members-bill-proposes-mps-also-declare-assets-after-term-ends

A bill for parliamentarians to declare their assets at the end of their tenure has been proposed. The Representation of The People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017, will be presented in the Winter Session of Parliament this year. This bill aims to ensure accountability and transparency.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The bill proposes that Members of Parliament declare their assets within 90 days after their tenure ends. This provision is to be inserted as sub section 75B(1) in the ‘Representation of People Act, 1951’.
  • The proposed amendment in the parent act will help in maintaining transparency and accountability of people’s representatives at the apex level. It will also help in creating a positive atmosphere of corruption-free status of MPs.

 

Present scenario:

At present, elected candidate of the two Houses of Parliament have to declare their assets and liabilities within ninety days from the date on which they take their seat. However, there are no such provisions for declaration of assets and liabilities after the expiry of the term.

 

Background:

The bill comes in the wake of Supreme Court observations earlier this month on the issue, after it was irked over the non-disclosure of action on jumps in politicians’ assets. The Supreme Court took strong exception to the Centre’s attitude of not disclosing information on action taken by it against politicians, some of whose assets had seen a massive jump of up to 500% between two elections, and had directed the government to place the necessary information in this regard before the court.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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.

 

State-funding of polls

 

Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) T S Krishnamurthy has pitched for state-funding of elections, and banning the use of funds by political parties for polls, as part of electoral reforms. He has also mooted creation of a national election fund to which companies and individuals can contribute. This is mainly aimed at ensuring that there is no connection between political parties and corporate.

 

What is state or public funding of elections?

This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections. Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean. In some countries, state funding is extended to meeting some specific forms of spending by political parties, not confined to electioneering alone. Countries keep changing laws relating to state funding depending on experience and financial condition.

 

Why public funding is good?

  • Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  • Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  • Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption. If parties and candidates are financed with only private funds, economical inequalities in the society might translate into political inequalities in government.
  • In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates. If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

 

Arguments against state funding:

There are divergent views on the efficacy of state funding of elections. Some have been dismissive of the idea. Those against this idea wonder how a Government that is grappling with deficit budgets, can provide money to political parties to contest elections.

  • They also warn that state funding would encourage every second outfit to get into the political arena merely to avail of state funds.
  • Also, given that state expenditure on key social sectors such as primary healthcare is “pitifully small”, the very idea of the Government giving away money to political parties to contest polls, is revolting. Therefore, opponents ask the government to channelize public resources towards and not diverted from such essential services.

 

Way ahead:

Poll funding has been a source of funnelling black money and cleaning up the poll process is necessary. Looking at the number of parties in India, it is easy to suspect that some of them have been floated by national or state parties to park their income from dubious sources, because such parties are not subject to the Election Commission’s scrutiny. The current form of political funding has become a burden on the economy. Many parliamentarians have raised concerns over the use of excessive money in election campaigns. This presents the government with the best chance to carry out significant anti-corruption reforms in the history of independent India.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

INDO-USA Joint Exercise Yudh Abhyas – 2017

yudh abhyas

Exercise Yudh Abhyas – 2017, a joint military exercise between Indian and US armies has commenced at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, USA.

 

Key facts:

  • During the two week long exercise soldiers from both countries will hone their tactical skills in counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations under a joint brigade headquarter.
  • Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations.
  • Experts from both sides will hold detailed discussions to share their experience and expertise on varied operational topics.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 3:

 

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

 

GSTN reopens window for composition scheme

 

The GST Network (GSTN) has reopened the facility for small taxpayers with a turnover of up to Rs 75 lakh to opt for composition scheme. Such small taxpayers will have time till September 30 to opt for the scheme, which offers easy compliance for business as returns are to be filed only quarterly.

 

What 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: the hindu.


 

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

Sardar Sarovar Dam

sardar-sarovar-dam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated world’s second biggest dam Sardar Sarovar, 56 years after its foundation stone was laid by former PM Jawaharlal Nehru.

 

Key facts:

  • Sardar Sarovar project is the second biggest dam in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States.
  • The Sardar Sarovar Dam has two power houses – river bed power house and canal head powerhouse. The two powerhouses have the installed capacity of 1,200 MW and 250 MW respectively.
  • Sardar Sarovar Dam is also the most controversial development project of the nation. Activists have been long demanding that the filling of the reservoir with water be stopped immediately. They want the dam gates to be open to reduce the water level.
  • As per the arrangement, the power generated from the Sardar Sarovar Dam will be shared among Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. About 57% of the electricity produced from the Sardar Sarovar Dam would go to Maharashtra while Madhya Pradesh will get 27% and Gujarat 16%.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

30th Anniversary of Montreal protocol and 23rd World Ozone Day Celebrated

30TH Anniversary of montreal protocol

30th Anniversary of Montreal protocol and 23rd World Ozone Day was celebrated on September 16th across the country.

Theme – “Caring for all life under the Sun”.

 

World Ozone Day:

Every year, on September 16, the World celebrates the International day for the preservation of Ozone layer as the World Ozone Day. During the United Nations convention in Vienna for the Montreal Protocol, the General Assembly declared September 16 as the World Ozone day in order to remind the world of the depleting ozone layer. The first ozone hole was discovered 30 years ago in May 1985 over Antarctica.

 

What you need to know about the Ozone layer:

The ozone layer absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet light which is harmful to human life and other life forms. The layer absorbs about 97 to 99% of ultraviolet rays and maintain the ozone-oxygen cycle. Dobson unit is a unit which is used to measure the ozone in the atmosphere at a standard temperature and pressure.

 

MONTREAL PROTOCOL:

The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful global environmental treaties, the implementation of which has not only led to the phase-out of around 98% of ozone depleting chemicals, but also averted more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Nearly 2 million cases of skin cancer per year have been averted globally. The Montreal Protocol is the only environmental treaty which enjoys universal ratification of 197 UN member countries.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

Decoding shell companies

 

The Centre has initiated action against more than two lakh shell companies as part of Operation Clean Money. Separately, the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India has identified 331 companies and initiated action against them.

 

What are shell companies?

The Companies Act, 2013 has not defined what a ‘shell company’ is and as to what kind of activities would lead to a company being termed a ‘shell’.

Shell companies are typically corporate entities which do not have any active business operations or significant assets in their possession. The government views them with suspicion as some of them could be used for money laundering, tax evasion and other illegal activities.

 

Is there a law governing shell companies?

In India, there is no specific law relating to “shell companies.” However, some laws help, to an extent, in curbing illegal activities such as money laundering and can indirectly be used to target shell companies — Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016; The Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 and The Companies Act, 2013.

 

Sources: the hindu.