Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 June 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
What to study?
For prelims and mains: about NABCB, roles, objectives and significance of accreditation.
Context: The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), India’s national accreditation body, has secured international equivalence for its accreditation programme for personnel certification bodies.
NABCB signed the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) for its accreditation programme based on international standard, ISO/IEC 17024.
ISO/IEC 17024: Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons specifies criteria for the operation of a Personnel Certification Bodies (also known as a certification body for persons). The standard includes requirements for the development and maintenance of the certification schemes for persons upon which the certification is based.
- With the above recognition, NABCB hopes to facilitate export of Indian services and skills into the world market by attesting that persons are certified following international standards by the certifying bodies.
- Personnel Certification would support many professionals in India, especially those who do not have formal education or certificate programme.
- Any person carrying ISO/IEC 17024 certificate with NABCB logo will be recognized internationally.
- It can also be used by regulators for establishing confidence in certified personnel for different activities.
- This signifies that the accreditation of personnel certification bodies by NABCB is now accepted as equivalent at international level.
NABCB, a constituent Board of the Quality Council of India, an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is responsible for accreditation of certification/inspection bodies as per applicable international standards under an international system of equivalence.
Significance of accreditation:
Accreditation reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring that accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) are competent to carry out the work they undertake within their scope of accreditation.
The Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC):
It was established on 1 January 2019 by the amalgamation of two former regional accreditation cooperations – the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) and the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC).
APAC ‘s primary role is to manage and expand a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) among accreditation bodies in the Asia Pacific region.
The MRA facilitates the acceptance of conformity assessment results (e.g. test reports, test certificates, inspection reports, and certification) across the region and with other regions around the world.
APAC’s members include accreditation bodies, accreditation focal points and other organisations that have an interest in accredited conformity assessment results.
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- IPR related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims: GI tags and about Kolhapuri chappal.
For Mains: Significance of GI tags.
Context: Namma Kolhapuri chappal gets GI boost.
The approval for GI tag was jointly received by Karnataka and Maharashtra recently for making these chappals. There is a perception that these artisans are from Maharashtra alone, but a large number of them are from Karnataka, and have been making these chappals for centuries.
These leather chappals are hand-crafted and tanned using vegetable dyes. The art of making them is passed down one generation to another.
About GI tag:
What is it? A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Significance of a GI tag: Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Security: Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
Provisions in this regard: GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.
At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.
Registrar of Geographical Indications:
- The Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks appointed under sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, shall be the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
- The Central Government may appoint such officers with such designations as it thinks fit for the purpose of discharging, under the superintendence and direction of the Registrar, such functions of the Registrar under this Act, as he may from time to time authorise them to discharge.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the program.
Context: The ambitious “back to village” programme has begun in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ambitious programme has four main goals:
- energising panchayats.
- collecting feedback on delivery of government schemes and programmes.
- capturing specific economic potential.
- undertaking assessment of needs of villages.
Key features of the program:
Under the program, the entire administrative apparatus of the state government is going to visit all the 4483 Panchayat halqas to get the grassroots level feedback from general public.
The government has deployed one gazetted officer as nodal officer in each panchayat halqa, who will interact with panchayat members, general public to get the general feedback.
The program is primarily aimed at directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation and to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living.
Sources: Indian Express.
- Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: All about summer Solstice- its occurrence, why it occurs, significance and changes associated.
Context: 21 June marks the beginning of Summer Season. June 21 is the longest day of the year 2019 as it marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.
What does ‘solstice’ mean?
The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’. On this day the Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction as it reaches its southernmost position as seen from the Earth. Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to describe the event.
Solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.
At the June solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that our world’s North Pole is leaning most toward the sun. As seen from Earth, the sun is directly overhead at noon 23 1/2 degrees north of the equator, at an imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Cancer – named after the constellation Cancer the Crab. This is as far north as the sun ever gets.
All locations north of the equator have days longer than 12 hours at the June solstice. Meanwhile, all locations south of the equator have days shorter than 12 hours.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the project.
Context: The world’s largest irrigation and drinking water system—Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project—was recently inaugurated by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao.
What’s the project?
The Kaleshwaram project is an off-shoot of the original Pranahitha-Chevella Lift Irrigation Scheme taken up by the Congress government in 2007 when Andhra Pradesh was not divided.
After the formation of Telangana in 2014, the TRS government redesigned the project on the ground that the original plan had too many environmental obstacles and had very low water storage provision — only about 16.5 tmc ft.
After conducting a highly advanced Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey for a couple of months, the government separated the original component serving the Adilabad area as the Pranahitha project and renamed the rest as Kaleshwaram by redesigning the head works, storage capacity and the canal system based on the data of availability of water at different locations along the course of the Godavari and its tributaries.
The Kaleshwaram project has provision for the storage of about 148 tmc ft with plans of utilising 180 tmc ft by lifting at least 2 tmc ft water every day for 90 flood days. The project is designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.
According to engineers, KLIP has many unique features, including the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km, between the Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir. The project would also utilise the highest capacity pumps, up to 139 MW, in the country to lift water.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for prelims:
Context: Indian Navy and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have signed a contract for supply of heavyweight torpedo Varunastra to Indian Navy.
- Varunastra is basically a ship-launched, electrically-propelled underwater weapon equipped with one of the most advanced automatic and remote-controlled guidance systems.
- It is the only torpedo in the world to have a GPS-based locating aid.
- The anti-submarine electric torpedo when fired can travel at 40 knots, or 74 kmph.
- The operational range is 40 km and it can carry a warhead weighing 250 kg.
- The weapon has been jointly developed by the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NTSL), Visakhapatnam and the Bharat Dynamics Limited -BDL (Hyderabad).
Indian Navy launched Operation Sankalp in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to reassure Indian flagged vessels transiting through the area following the recent maritime incidents in the region.
The operation has been launched in the wake of escalating tension in the Gulf of Oman, where two oil tankers were attacked last week.
International Yoga Day 2018:
The International Yoga Day is celebrated every year on June 21. It was first introduced by the United Nations on June 21, 2015.
The main aim is to create an awareness worldwide on the importance of staying fit and healthy.
Why was June 21 selected to be International Yoga Day? June 21 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed this date at the United Nations General Assembly 2014.
2019 Theme: Yoga for Climate Action.
Summaries of important Editorials:
The forgotten funds:
What is a cess?
A cess is levied on the tax payable and not on the taxable income. In a sense, for the taxpayer, it is equivalent to a surcharge on tax.
A cess can be levied on both direct and indirect taxes. The revenue obtained from income tax, corporation tax, and indirect taxes can be allocated for various purposes.
The proceeds of all taxes and cesses are credited in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), an account of the Government of India.
Difference between tax and cess?
Unlike a tax, a cess is levied to meet a specific purpose; its proceeds cannot be spent on any kind of government expenditure. While the tax proceeds are shared with the States and Union Territories according to the guidelines by the Finance Commission, the cess proceeds need not be shared with them.
Recent examples of cess are: infrastructure cess on motor vehicles, clean environment cess, Krishi Kalyan cess (for the improvement of agriculture and welfare of farmers), and education cess.
The education cess, at 2%, which was first proposed in 2004, was aimed at improving primary education. In 2007, an additional cess of 1% was introduced to fund secondary and higher education (SHEC). And recently, in the 2019 Union Budget, a 4% health and education cess was announced which incorporates the previous 3% education cess as well as an additional 1% to provide for the health of rural families.
How is it utilised?
In order to utilise the cess proceeds lying in the CFI, the government has to create a dedicated fund. As long as a dedicated fund is not created, the cess proceeds remain unutilised.
The dedicated fund for primary education is the ‘Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh’, or PSK, (created in October 2005, a year after the cess was introduced) while that for higher and secondary education is the ‘Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh’ (set up in August 2017).
It is shocking that Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh has remained dormant as of March 2018.
Moreover, data from the 2017-18 annual financial audit of government finances conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) show that Rs. 94,036 crore of SHEC proceeds is lying unutilised in the CFI.
The degree of economic injustice becomes sharper when the unspent account is seen in conjunction with the Central government’s expenditure on education; for example, in 2017-18, the public expenditure on school and higher education was estimated to be Rs. 79,435.95 crore. In other words, the cumulative unutilised SHEC funds far exceeded the expenditure on both school and higher education for the year 2017-18.
Need of the hour:
Since a cess is introduced with a specific purpose, it is completely unjustified when the proceeds remain unutilised for so many years. Moreover, in the current context of self-imposed fiscal discipline and the consequent reduction of public expenditure, the opportunity cost of unutilised education cess proceeds is significantly high. Finally, it is imperative that the government immediately begins utilising cess proceeds and also publishes an annual account of the manner in which they have been utilised.
To make the point clear, the proceeds from the education cess cannot be used for cleaning the environment and vice versa.