Insights Daily Current Events, 18 July 2015
State to tap financial markets for infra projects
The Kerala state government has mooted a new idea to give a fillip to infrastructure development. The government has decided to appoint a financial advisor-cum-consultant (FAC).
- to help the government access financial markets for raising funds for a slew of infrastructure projects, some of which are either in the process of implementation or will come up soon for implementation.
The selection of the consultant or a consultancy agency will be through a two-stage competitive bidding or selection process. It will help the State mobilise resources for infrastructure development.
Role of FAC:
- The financial consultant’s main job will be to help the government source funds for State’s major projects.
- The FAC will have three specific roles – management and financial consultancy services, issue advisory services, and legal services.
- It will also assist the government in preparation of memorandum of associations, MoUs, bylaws, contracts, and agreements.
Sources: The Hindu.
Hampi’s Stone Chariot on Rs. 10 note
The Stone Chariot at the Vijaya Vittala temple complex in Hampi, Karnataka will now adorn the new Rs. 10 note.
- This decision was taken at a joint meeting between the Secretary of the Union Finance Ministry, the Chief General Manager of the Currency Management Department, Reserve Bank of India, and the Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
- The Stone Chariot is among the six monuments — the others are the Red Fort in Delhi; the Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha; the Taj Mahal in Agra; the Goa churches and the Padmapani painting in the Ajanta Caves — to have been chosen to feature on new currency notes of the denomination of Rs. 10, Rs. 20, Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, respectively.
- The Stone Chariot is among the ancient monuments of the country that have been conserved as an “architectural marvel of human genius with outstanding universal values”, and it has been a major attraction for tourists thronging Hampi.
- Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India located near Hospet town in the Karnataka state.
- It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- The emperor Ashoka’s minor rock edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district, Karnataka) lead one to believe that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BCE.
- A Brahmi inscription & a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also discovered from the excavation site.
- The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
- It is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
- Hampi has various notable Hindu temples with some vedanta mythology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
TS gears up for Bonalu festivities
The Telangana government has made it clear that total expenditure of the ‘Bonalu’ festivities will be officially borne by the government, as it has been declared as the State festival.
About Bonalu festival:
- Bonalu is a Hindu festival celebrated in parts of Telangana and Rayalaseema in Andrapradesh, India.
- The Word Bonalu came from “Bhojanalu” meaning food, which is offered to the goddess during festival time.
- It is celebrated during ashada masam. It is believed that during Ashada Maasam, the Goddess comes back to her maternal home. So people come to see her and bring offerings of food (Bonalu) to show their love and affection, just as they would prepare a special meal when their own daughters visit them.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Cancer to become notifiable disease in State
Cancer, which is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality rates across the globe, is soon going to be a notifiable disease in Karnataka.
- This means that all hospitals across the State, both government and private, will have to mandatorily report any case of cancer that they come across.
- Notification of cancer cases by all healthcare providers will help patients with better access to quality diagnosis and treatment.
- This would facilitate early diagnosis, rational treatment, and prevention of complications.
- This notification system will also help the healthcare providers to offer better linkages for quality diagnostic and treatment services to the patients.
Sources: The Hindu.
GST: Government firm on extra tax
Even as the long-pending Goods and Services Tax Bill is being examined by a parliamentary committee, the government has categorically said that it would not reconsider withdrawing the 1% additional tax, over the GST, to help manufacturing States.
- This provision is strongly opposed by the Congress and some states.
Arguments against this provision:
- Opponents of this provision say that the 1% tax goes against the spirit of GST.
- It could make intra-state movement of goods expensive and hurt the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
- It would favour international trade over intra-national trade, because every time a good passes a border it had to bear an extra tax.
Why was it introduced?
- In order to address concerns of the manufacturing states, the GST Constitution Amendment Bill has provided for an additional one per cent tax for a period of two years.
- As Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a destination-based levy, it would help the manufacturing states make good the loss of revenue.
The Centre has also promised to compensate states for a period up to five years for any loss of revenue arising from implementing the GST.
The goods and services tax (GST) is a comprehensive value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services. It is an indirect tax levied on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at a national level.
- Through a tax credit mechanism, this tax is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain.
- The system allows the set-off of GST paid on the procurement of goods and services against the GST which is payable on the supply of goods or services. However, the end consumer bears this tax as he is the last person in the supply chain.
- Experts say that GST is likely to improve tax collections and boost India’s economic development by breaking tax barriers between States and integrating India through a uniform tax rate.
What are the benefits of GST?
- Under GST, the taxation burden will be divided equitably between manufacturing and services, through a lower tax rate by increasing the tax base and minimizing exemptions.
- It is expected to help build a transparent and corruption-free tax administration. GST will be is levied only at the destination point, and not at various points (from manufacturing to retail outlets).
- Currently, a manufacturer needs to pay tax when a finished product moves out from a factory, and it is again taxed at the retail outlet when sold.
How will it benefit the Centre and the States?
It is estimated that India will gain $15 billion a year by implementing the Goods and Services Tax as it would promote exports, raise employment and boost growth. It will divide the tax burden equitably between manufacturing and services.
What are the benefits of GST for individuals and companies?
In the GST system, both Central and State taxes will be collected at the point of sale. Both components (the Central and State GST) will be charged on the manufacturing cost. This will benefit individuals as prices are likely to come down. Lower prices will lead to more consumption, thereby helping companies.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, PIB.
Cloudbursts were reported from several areas of Kashmir and the Met department has forecast more rain in the next 24 hours across the state. The Amarnath yatra has also been affected by these cloudbursts.
What is a Cloudburst?
A cloudburst is an extreme amount of precipitation, sometimes accompanied by hail and thunder that normally lasts no longer than a few minutes but is capable of creating flood conditions.
A cloudburst can suddenly dump 72,300 tons of water over one acre. However, cloudbursts are infrequent as they occur only via orographic lift or occasionally when a warm air parcel mixes with cooler air, resulting in sudden condensation.
- Cloud burst is a situation when the inter-molecular forces between the H2O molecules get very high due to the rapid decrease in the temperature or excess of electrostatic induction in the clouds causing the lighting to remain inside the cloud only, which causes hyperactive energy inside the cloud. The water molecules get denser and denser and get condensed but do not leave the cloud due to excess of electroforces.
- As the water concentration get higher and higher and so the weigh gets heavier the water no longer is able to maintain force with the clouds and so they fall and it precipitates.
In the Indian subcontinent, a cloudburst usually occurs when a monsoon cloud drifts northwards, from the Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea across the plains, then onto the Himalaya and bursts, bringing rainfall as high as 75 millimeters per hour.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Butterfly species found
Scientists have discovered a tiny butterfly in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
About the Butterfly:
- It has been named Banded Tit Hypolycaena narada.
- It is 15 mm in size.
- The Banded Tit is a denizen of low-lying evergreen forests of Changlang.
- It has an interesting life cycle. The adult butterflies live only for approximately two weeks in March every year, presumably spending a large part of the remaining year in a dormant state in larval or pupal stages, which are still unknown.
- The butterflies feed primarily on bird-droppings along cool streams in the forests.
- However, much of its biology is still a mystery.
The discovery has once again spotlighted Eastern Himalayas as a bio- diversity hotspot. The Banded Tit discovery raises the possibility that many more species that are new to science still remain to be discovered in the remote mountain ranges and forests of North-eastern India.
Sources: The Hindu.
State submits Rs. 4,000 cr. worth proposals under Sagarmala
The Andhra Pradesh State government has submitted proposals worth Rs. 4,000 crore under Sagarmala project for development of port and connectivity infrastructure.
- The first phase of infrastructure investment is expected for Masula and Bhavanapadu ports and also for the Rs.1,100 crore Viziangaram – Raipur railway line for which work has already commenced.
The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast. The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:
- Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development,
- Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports, and
- Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.
- In addition to strengthening port and evacuation infrastructure, it also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- The Sagarmala initiative would also strive to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ). This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing schemes and programmes such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.
- A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation of the plan and projects. The NSAC shall be chaired by the Minister incharge of Shipping, with Cabinet Ministers from stakeholder Ministries and Chief Ministers/Ministers incharge of ports of maritime states as members.
Govt fast-tracks Pattiseema, sends team to China
With the August 15 deadline for the start of the first phase of Pattiseema project fast approaching, the Irrigation department of Andhra Pradesh government has intensified its efforts to ensure completion of the project within the stipulated timeframe.
- The department has deputed a team of senior engineers to China to undertake a detailed inspection of the design and construction of the lift scheme for drawl of water from Godavari near Pattiseema village and dropping it into the Polavaram right main canal in single stage.
About the Project:
- It is a lift irrigation project.
- The project envisages diversion of 80 tmcft of water from Godavari river to Krishna delta by tapping water at Pattiseema.
- Apart from providing water to the Krishna delta, the Pattiseema project will give a fillip to industrial activity around the new capital city.
Sources: The Hindu, IE.
RBI inks pact with Sri Lanka’s Central Bank
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently signed a currency swap agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
- Under this agreement, Sri Lanka can draw a maximum of $1.1 billion for a period of up to six months.
- The agreement is in addition to the existing framework on currency swap arrangement for the SAARC member countries, an arrangement by which SAARC members can draw currency $100 million-$400 million, with a total limit of $2 billion, from an RBI financing facility set up for this purpose.
- India and Sri Lanka’s central banks signed a currency swap agreement in March 2015 under the SAARC Framework, agreed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the island nation.
A currency swap is an exchange of a liability in one currency for a liability in another currency. Currency swap agreements exist to assist countries during periods of tight liquidity or balance of payments and liquidity crises.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
SC judge seeks clarity on constitutional role of CJI
A Supreme Court judge has asked the government whether the Chief Justice is actually the ‘Chief Justice of India’ or the ‘Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India’, triggering a debate.
The question came from Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the five judges on the Constitution Bench deciding the crucial issue whether the political class, through the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), should be given an equal role in the appointment of judges, including the Chief Justice of India.
This query stems from the inconsistency in the way the Constitution identifies the Chief Justice in two different places:
- In Schedule 3 of the Indian Constitution, which deals with ‘Forms of Oath and Affirmations’, the Chief Justice takes oath as the ‘Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India’.
- But under Article 124 of the Constitution, the President’s Warrant of Appointment identifies him as the ‘Chief Justice of India’.
What experts say?
- Legal experts say the confusion lies in the fact that the Constitution does not provide a separate oath for the Chief Justice as in the case of the President under Article 60 and the Vice-President in Article 69.
- Some experts also say that there is no ambiguity and there is hardly a need to administer a separate oath for the Chief Justice. When he takes oath as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he also takes on the constitutional identity of the Chief Justice of India.
Sources: The Hindu, NIE.
Note: Questions will be Posted Later.