Insights Daily Current Events, 07 November 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Now, 0.5% cess on services to support Swachh Bharat
The Union government has decided to impose two new levies —
- A 0.5% Swachh Bharat Cess on all services, now liable to service tax.
- A 2% regional connectivity cess on international air travel and flights between metros and big cities.
- The Swachh Bharat cess will be effective from November15 and regional connectivity cess will be effective from New Year.
- The proceeds from swachh Barat cess will be used for Swachh Bharat initiatives.
- A provision for levying a Swachh Bharat cess on all or any of the services for the purpose of financing and promoting Swachh Bharat initiatives was made in the Union Budget for 2015-16 by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
- The government estimates that with the increased allocation for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, consequent to the collections from the cess, it will be able to prevent diseases. At present, an estimated Rs.6,700 crore or about Rs.60 per capita is spent annually on health.
- All services, including air travel, telecom, eating out and banking, will become expensive now.
- The additional cess may yield the government an additional about Rs 400 crore during the remainder of the current fiscal year.
According to the government, Swachh Bharat Cess is not another tax but a step towards involving each and every citizen in making contribution to Swachh Bharat.
sources: the hindu, et.
Paper 3 Topic: employment.
In India, unemployment rate still high
An analysis of the official Census 2011 data by The Hindu, has yielded the following information on Unemployment in India.
- Of the 116 million Indians who were either seeking or available for work, 32 million were illiterate and 84 literate.
- Ten million Indians with graduate, post-graduate and technical degrees were looking for work as of 2011. That is, around 15% of all Indians with the highest levels of education were seeking job as of 2011.
- Among literates, unemployment rates were higher among the better qualified, highest of all among the 7.2 million people with a technical diploma or certificate other than a degree.
- At all levels of education, unemployment rates were higher in rural than in urban areas.
- At every level of education, especially at the higher levels, female unemployment exceeded male unemployment.
- Overall, India’s unemployment rate grew from 6.8% in 2001 to 9.6% in 2011.
- Unemployment grew faster for illiterates than for literates.
- As of 2011, Kerala had India’s highest graduate unemployment rate at over 30%.
The ‘unemployed’ included those who were not currently working but were seeking or available for work, as well as those in marginal employment — meaning that they worked for fewer than six months in the year preceding the Census — who were seeking or available for work.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Trans Pacific trade pact text triggers fresh debate in U.S.
The recent release of the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in the US has triggered a fresh round of domestic debate on how it would impact the country.
- Now, getting Congressional approval for the pact has become a challenge for Barack Obama.
- According to President Obama, the TPP is the highest standard trade agreement in history. It eliminates 18,000 taxes that various countries put on American goods and will boost Made-in-America exports abroad while supporting higher-paying jobs right here at home.
Why this pact is being opposed?
- Many US citizens and dozens of lawmakers are sceptical about the new pact. This pact, according to some, is just for CEOs of big companies.
- Opponents see the pact as mostly a giveaway to business, encouraging further export of manufacturing jobs to low-wage nations while limiting competition and encouraging higher prices for pharmaceuticals and other high-value products by spreading American standards for patent protections to other countries.
- A provision allowing multinational corporations to challenge regulations and court rulings before special tribunals is also drawing intense opposition.
About the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership is headed by the US and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
- The agreement covers 40% of the world’s economy.
- It would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations.
- It would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade. It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, open the Internet even in communist Vietnam and crack down on wildlife trafficking and environmental abuses.
sources: the hindu, tpp.
Paper 2 Topic: Health.
Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM)
A new programme called SATYAM-“Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation” has been launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology to strengthen research in the areas of yoga and meditation.
Main objective of the programme: To harness knowledge obtained in academic institutions and other related agencies for finding Science & Technology -led solutions that would enable the government to cope with stress and strain associated with fast changing social, economic, environmental and professional circumstances.
The programme will encourage research in two major thematic areas:
- Investigations on the effect of Yoga and meditation on physical and mental health.
- Investigations on the effect of Yoga & meditation on the body, brain and mind in terms of basic processes occurring therein.
Research under SATYAM will seek to identify various issues and challenges related to human well-being and address them.
Given the ever increasing prevalence of physical and mental health problems, the holistic approach of Yoga and meditation is believed to have the potential to find beneficial treatment that is relatively safer and more cost-effective.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure railways.
In its 4th Meeting held recently, under the Chairmanship of Ratan Tata, Kayakalp (Innovation Council of Indian Railways) discussed safety issues and attempted to identify the causes for accidents on account of manual failures.
- The Council looked at approaches towards achieving greater hygiene and cleanliness on railway facilities such as stations.
- The Council also examined customer focus of the Indian Railways at present and ways to make the organization more customer friendly.
- All Members also agreed on Railways’ need to address customer needs in a more visible and effective manner.
- It is an innovation council which was set up for the purpose of business re-engineering and introducing a spirit of innovation in Railways.
- The purpose of the Council is to recommend innovative methods and processes for the improvement, betterment and transformation of the Indian Railways.
- This Council would be a standing body and would interact with all stakeholders and other interested parties.
Paper 3 Topic: Money laundering.
7 South Asian nations team up to tackle black money
Seven countries in the South-Asian region have decided to come together to set up a regional intelligence and coordination centre — to be called South Asian Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC) — to tackle the menace of money laundering and illicit financial flows.
- This is the first time an attempt is being made to establish such a centre in South Asia.
- India is spearheading this initiative so as to have a coordinated action against money laundering and illicit financial flows.
- Besides India, the countries that are part of the initiative of setting up of the South Asian Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC) are Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives.