Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 January 2017
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
After Centre, Apple may also have to cross States’ hurdles to set up plant in India
After Centre, Apple may have to face a fresh round of hurdles from states in setting of its company in India.
What is it?
For Apple to set up its manufacturing facilities in the country, even the states will have to come on board. Apple’s key demand — predictability and certainty of countervailing duty (CVD) exemption — will require the support of states as the country adopts goods and services tax (GST) in the next financial year.
- Since exemptions under GST council have to be offered by the GST council, it will be difficult for the Centre to offer assurances on this score.
- Apple wants an assurance on CVD exemption as the government removed it for the three components last year and the company is concerned that this list may further expand in coming years.
- Also, the company is keen on clarity in CVD exemption as its component makers may not immediately set up shop in India and it may have to rely on imports for some time.
What is CVD?
These are duties that are imposed in order to counter the negative impact of import subsidies to protect domestic producers are called countervailing duties.
CVD is levied as part of import duty, but states have made clear that as it’s in lieu of excise duty they want a say in what will be taxed and what will be exempt.
Other demands by Apple:
- Apple has sought the government’s assurance on continuing the CVD exemption for 15 years. It has also sought relaxations under the modified special incentive package scheme (M-SIPS) that allows second-hand capital goods imports of up to 20 per cent of total investment.
- Besides, it wants changes to the definition of manufacturing under excise duty, which recognises a mere change in label as manufacturing and also changes to labelling provisions under the Indian Metrology Act.
A committee of central and state officials has been tasked by the GST Council to decide on the brackets goods will be placed in and those that will be exempted. The GST Council will take a final call on the committee’s recommendations. The Centre will have to convince states to continue with the exemptions that it may deem imperative in the larger interest of the country.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Eight great powers for the year 2017
American foreign policy magazine has selected eight countries for the list of eight great powers for the year 2017.
- India is ranked at the sixth spot, behind China and Japan.
- The list is topped by the USA.
- China and Japan are at tie for being on the second spot.
- Russia (fourth) and Germany (fifth) are the other two countries ahead of India.
- Iran is ranked seventh and Israel is on the eighth spot.
Important observations made on India by the Magazine:
- India is the world’s largest democracy, home to the second-largest English-speaking population in the world and boasting a diversified and rapidly growing economy. However, it is often overlooked in the list of world’s great superpowers.
- On the geopolitical front, India has many suitors: China, Japan and the United States are all seeking to incorporate India into their preferred Asian security architecture, while the EU and Russia court New Delhi for lucrative trade and defence agreements.
- Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has deftly steered its way among these competing powers while seeking to unleash its potential with modernising economic reforms.
- According to the magazine, despite internal problems in the aftermath of demonetisation, and the Pakistan scare, India found its footing elsewhere in 2016.
- India took several clear steps this year to deter a rising and aggressive China, announcing that it would fast-track its defence infrastructure projects in the Indian Ocean, amid fears that China was trying to encircle India with a ‘string of pearls’.
- In the recent past, new naval cooperation with both the US and Japan were also explored, and a host of defence deals with Russia, France and Israel to modernise the Indian military were also signed.
- From the Middle East and East Africa to Southeast Asia, India is making its presence felt in both economics and security policy in ways that traditional great powers like Britain and France only wish they could match.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India-UAE strategic oil reserves deal
India has signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates that allows the Gulf OPEC country to fill half of an underground crude oil storage facility at Mangalore, Karnataka.
- The deal is part of New Delhi’s strategic petroleum reserve system, an emergency underground storage of 36.87 million barrels of crude oil which can supply about 10 days of the country’s average daily oil demand.
- UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) will store about 6 million barrels of oil at Mangalore, taking up about half of the site’s capacity.
- This is the second agreement signed between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited and ADNOC in the area of storage and management of oil at strategic facilities in India. Crude oil supplies from ADNOC will begin in the last quarter of 2017.
Three years ago, India began talks to lease part of its strategic storage to ADNOC. Under those discussions in 2014, India was to have first rights to the stored crude oil in case of an emergency.
Strategic petroleum reserves have become indispensable to safeguard the economy and to help maintain national security in the event of an energy crisis. These crude oil inventories (or stockpiles) can be held by the government of a particular country, as well as by private industry.
In fact, India has already filled the other half of the Mangalore storage facility with 6 million barrels of Iranian oil. The country has another storage site in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh with 7.55 million barrels of Iraqi oil and a third such facility in Karnataka’s Paduran, with a storage capacity 18.3 million barrels.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Japan’s Military Launches First Communications Satellite
Japan has successfully launched its first military communications satellite that is designed to upgrade its network in the face of China’s increasingly assertive maritime activity and North Korea’s missile threat.
- The Kirameki-2 satellite was launched on board H-2A rocket.
- It is the first of three satellites that will replace three civilian ones currently used by Japan’s military.
- The new satellites will allow military units to communicate on a high-speed and high-capacity network.
- The new satellites are also aimed at stepping up Japan’s emergency response capability in case of natural disaster, China’s maritime activity from southern Japanese waters to the South China Sea, as well as missile threats from North Korea.
- The satellites are also planned for use for Japanese troops operating overseas as part of international peacekeeping operations, including those in South Sudan and off the Somali coast, Kyodo News reported.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Yettinahole project: activists threaten to go on hunger strike
Activists opposing the Yettinahole diversion project in Karnataka have threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike from February 11 if the State government did not take a decision to stop the project during the upcoming legislature session.
About Yettinahole project:
The Yettinahole project envisages to pump about 24 tmc ft of water from Yettinahole, a tributary of River Netravathi.
- It involves construction of dams and reservoir, pumping of water, flowing of water with gravitational force and finally filling of lakes.
- As per the project, 24 tmc ft of water from Yettinahole and a couple of other tributaries of Netravathi River will be drawn by constructing minor dams.
- The project envisages diverting the water to drought prone Chikkaballapur, Kolur, Tumkur and Bangalore rural districts.
- The total cost of the project is Rs 8,323 crore.
The Yettinahole Project has come in for very strong opposition from environmental groups, who argue that the diversion of river basins from their natural course of opposite direction is fundamentally unscientific and would greatly disturb the very pattern of landscape ecology. This will result in problems like uneven percolation pattern, seepage problems, opening up of ground water sources in higher altitudes etc.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
- Bharat Parv is a national festival showcasing the country’s diverse culture, cuisines, handicrafts and catch glimpses of a progressive India.
- Bharat Parv event is being organized by the Government of India at the Red Fort, Delhi from 26th to 31st January 2017, as part of the Republic Day 2017 Celebrations.
- The prime objective of organizing the event is to generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularise the idea of “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat”.
- The Ministry of Tourism has been designated as the nodal Ministry for the event.
- The Cultural Performances include choreographed Folk / Tribal Dances and Music from across the country arranged through the North Zonal Cultural Centre.