Insights Daily Current Events, 11 December 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Supreme Court upholds Haryana panchayat law
The Supreme Court has upheld the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 which mandates that only those having minimum educational qualifications will be eligible to contest panchayat elections in the State.
- The court is of the opinion that basic education would enable the candidates to effectively discharge duties of the panchayat.
- The court also says that education gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, according to the court, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration.
- This judgment may become a rallying point for other States also to amend their laws in the same fashion.
- The Haryana State government had notified the Haryana Panchayati Raj (amendment) Act 2015 recently.
- According to the amendments, general category candidates require a minimum qualification of Class X pass, men contesting in the Scheduled Caste category and women in the general category need to be Class VIII pass, while women in the Scheduled Caste category need to be Class V pass to be eligible.
- The amendments also required that candidates should not have any dues in co-operative banks, electricity bills should be paid up and there should be a functional toilet at home.
- The State government had gone ahead with the changes despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the relevant ordinance on August 21.
- A petition was filed against the law alleging that the act had some discriminatory provisions that restrain persons from contesting elections on the ground of educational qualifications.
- The petition also says that 83% of Dalit women and 71% women in general and 56 percent males would be excluded from contesting the panchayat polls by this law, affecting fundamental rights of the candidates.
Besides Haryana, Rajasthan has also recently fixed the minimum educational qualification for elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Anti-dengue vaccine brings hope
The Mexican government has approved the world’s first anti-dengue vaccine which is designed to protect people in the age group 9-45 from all four subtypes of the virus.
- Called Dengvaxia, the vaccine has been developed by France-based Sanofi Pasteur and is the result of an extensive clinical development programme running for almost two decades.
- Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus.
- Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.
- In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
- Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes, principally A. aegypti.
- Usually, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Nod for biggest FDI in Indian Railways
The Cabinet has given its nod to set up India’s first 500-km-long bullet train project, with the help of Japanese funds and technology.
- Connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad, the cost of the project will be Rs 98,000 crore. Japan will invest Rs 78, 000 crore. This is the largest foreign investment in India’s railway sector.
- The Japanese loan of over Rs 78,000 crore will come with a 50-year tenure, along with a moratorium of 15-years.
- The decision comes on the back of the recommendations of a panel headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, which chose the low-cost funding proposed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at less than 1% interest rate apart from a commitment for technology transfer and local manufacturing for a specified period.
- The panel had also said that the Japanese Shinkansen system of bullet trains had the best safety record, with no fatalities and delays of less than a minute.
This development comes as a setback for China, which had been aggressively pitching to partner India in building the planned 10,000-km network of bullet trains. China had recently bagged its first foreign bullet train project in Indonesia, beating Japan by offering easy finance and technical assistance.
Paper 3 Topic: Changes in industrial policy.
Karnataka to allow start-ups to pitch for govt contracts
Karnataka plans to become the first state in the country to allow start-ups to pitch for local government contracts.
- The move called ‘the startup forum’, a collective of new enterprises across technology, manufacturing and services could pitch directly for government orders and execute them within the set cost and timelines. The framework for this is ready.
- This move by Karnataka will enable start-ups to get better access to capital and clients.
Significance of this move:
- Typically, government purchases follow protocols that mandate suppliers to either have a minimum threshold for revenue or have a three-year track record. Because of the existing government policies, it is very difficult for the government to tap into innovative solutions. Often, they are shut out from the innovative ideas to fix their issues.
- This move could potentially revolutionise procurement for government agencies by bringing down costs and access to new technology solutions.
Karnataka has been one of the most active and competitive ones when it comes to promoting the startup ecosystem.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India signs taxation MoU with South Korea
India and South Korea have signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) on suspension of collection of taxes during pendency of Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP).
- This is a step towards ease of doing business in India for Korean companies, as it will relieve economic double taxation and promote cross-border trade and investment.
- This MoU will help to ease the burden of double taxation for taxpayers in both the countries during the pendency of MAP proceedings.
Both the countries have also agreed that the transfer pricing cases will be taken up for MAP under the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Korea.
- Under MAP, which is a preferred way to settle cross-border tax cases globally, the two sides can negotiate settlement on a case that can subsequently be taken off from the formal legal process. The resolution process draws up parameters for taxation in one country for which credit would be available in another.
What is Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)?
MAP is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that allows competent authorities of India and its treaty partner to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement.
- Its main advantage is elimination of double taxation arising out of transfer pricing tax disputes, existence of Permanent Establishment, and characterisation of income and attribution of profits to such establishments.