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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 June 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. What is Finance Commission Grants & Other Transfers?

2. International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report.

3. Sikkim- Tibet Convention of 1890.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What is a rights issue?

2. RBI proposes comprehensive framework for sale of loans.

3. GM seeds: the debate, and a sowing agitation.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Important places and events from Chhattisgarh in News.

2. World Accreditation Day (WAD).

3. Daulat Beg Oldie.

4. Operation Desert Chase.

5. Athirappilly hydroelectric project.

6. CPCB to classify railway stations based on waste water generation.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

What is Finance Commission Grants & Other Transfers?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: FC- composition, recommendations, grants and basis for grants.

Context: The Finance Ministry has released Rs 6,195.08 crore revenue deficit grant to 14 states as the third equated monthly instalment to enhance their resources during Covid-19 crisis.

The government on May 11, 2020 had released Rs 6,195.08 crore to 14 states as the second equated monthly instalment of the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission. This would provide them additional resources during the Corona crisis.

The 15th Finance Commission used the following criteria while determining the share of states:

  • 45% for the income distance.
  • 15% for the population in 2011
  • 15% for the area
  • 10% for forest and ecology
  • 12.5% for demographic performance, and
  • 2.5% for tax effort.

For 2020-21, the Commission has recommended a total devolution of Rs 8,55,176 crore to the states, which is 41% of the divisible pool of taxes. This is 1% lower than the percentage recommended by the 14th Finance Commission.

What are the various grants recommended by the 15th Finance Commission?

The Terms of Reference of the Finance Commission require it to recommend grants-in-aid to the States.

These grants include: (i) revenue deficit grants, (ii) grants to local bodies, and (iii) disaster management grants.

What is the Finance Commission?

The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution, mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.

Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the States respectively and equalization of all public services across the States.

It is the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to:

  1. the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be, or may be, divided between them and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
  2. the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  3. the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;
  4. any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.

Composition:

As per the provisions contained in the Finance Commission [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1951 and The Finance Commission (Salaries & Allowances) Rules, 1951, the Chairman of the Commission is selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs, and the four other members are selected from among persons who:

  • are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
  • have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
  • have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
  • have special knowledge of economics.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. FC- composition.
  2. Functions of FC.
  3. Appointment of members and constitution of FC.
  4. Types of FC grants.
  5. Formula used by 15th finance commission.

Mains Link:

Give an account of the composition and functions of the Finance Commission as mentioned in the Constitution of India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About USCIRF, key observations, impact on India and India’s response.

Context: The U.S. State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report.

What is it?

The annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom, also known as the International Religious Freedom Report, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies promoting religious freedom. The report is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.

Observations made on Religious freedom in India:

  1. The report takes note of the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act(CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  2. It discusses in detail mob lynchings and anti-conversion laws and related issues.
  3. Lawmakers failed: The report notes, Issues of religiously inspired mob violence, lynching and communal violence were sometimes denied or ignored by lawmakers.
  4. It details incidents of “cow vigilantism” and other types of mob violence.
  5. The report also takes note of the Babri Masjid decision by the Supreme Court and the challenges to the 2018 reversal of a ban on some women entering the Sabarimala temple.

Impact and implications:

The report outlines the U.S. engagement with India on the issues.

USCIRF had, in April, recommended to Secretary of State that the State Department downgrade India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade — ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’. The Secretary of State is not obliged to accept the recommendation.

It recommended that the Trump administration “impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/ or barring their entry into the United States citing specific religious freedom violations”.

India’s response:

India has said the USCIRF’s “biased and tendentious” comments against the country were “not new”, but that, on this occasion, “its misrepresentation has reached new levels”.

Note: Details on this issue have been covered in detail previously on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/04/29/uscirf-2020-annual-report/.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is USCIRF?
  2. What are countries of particular concern?
  3. What is CAA?
  4. What is NRC?
  5. Which state in India has a NRC?

Mains Link:

How successful Indian polity has been in maintaining communal harmony in the state? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Sikkim- Tibet Convention of 1890

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Border dispute between India and China, basis, agreements and conventions in this regard, way ahead.

 Context: The skirmishes and the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Naku La in Sikkim last month, in an area of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has brought back the focus onto the historical Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890.

Experts say, as per this convention, Naku la belongs to India. Besides, Prior to Sikkim’s merger with India in 1975, China has officially accepted this demarcation.

What is the 1890 convention?

The treaty was formalised between Britain and Chinese kingdom. 

It was signed at Calcutta Convention in 1890. Of the eight Articles mentioned in the treaty, Article 1 is of critical significance.

As per Article (1), it was agreed that the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet.

The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory. However, Tibet refused to recognise the validity of Convention of 1890 and further refused to carry into effect the provisions of the said Convention.

In 1904, a treaty known as a Convention between Great Britain and Tibet was signed at Lhasa.

As per the Convention, Tibet agreed to respect the Convention of 1890 and to recognise the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, as defined in Article (1) of the said Convention.

On April 27, 1906, a treaty was signed between Great Britain and China at Peking, which confirmed the Convention of 1904 between Great Britain and Tibet.

dokala

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

Locate on the map:

  1. Nathu la.
  2. Jelep la.
  3. Doklam

Article 1 of the above said convention.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

What is a rights issue?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, features, comparison and significance.

Why in News?

Many companies including Reliance Industries Limited, Mahindra finance, Tata Power, Shriram Transport Finance among others plan to raise funds (aggregating to over Rs 10,000 crore) through rights issue amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is rights issue?

It is an offering of shares made to existing shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding.

  • Companies often offer shares in a rights issue at a discount on the market price.
  • Rights issues are used by companies seeking to raise capital without increasing debt.
  • Shareholders are not obliged to purchase shares offered in a rights issue.

Why are companies going for rights issue in current times?

For a rights issue, there is no requirement of shareholders’ meeting and an approval from the board of directors is sufficient and adequate. Therefore, the turnaround time for raising this capital is short and is much suited for the current situation unlike other forms that require shareholders’ approval and may take some time to fructify.

Thus the rights issue are a more efficient mechanism of raising capital.

What were the temporary relaxations provided in the wake of Covid-19 by SEBI?

Sebi reduced the eligibility requirement of average market capitalisation of public shareholding from Rs 250 crore to Rs 100 crore for a fast track rights issuance.

It also reduced the minimum subscription requirement from 90 per cent to 75 per cent of the issue size.

Also, listed entities raising funds upto Rs 25 crores (erstwhile limit was Rs 10 crores) through a rights issue are now not required to file draft offer document with SEBI.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. SEBI- composition and important functions.
  2. What is rights issue?
  3. Who can avail it?
  4. How is it different from conventional shares?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

RBI proposes comprehensive framework for sale of loans

What to study?

For Prelims: What is sale of loans?

For Mains: Relevance and significance of the latest framework.

Context: RBI has released draft Framework for ‘Sale of Loan Exposures’.

The move is aimed at building a robust secondary market for bank loans that could ensure proper price discovery and can be used as an indicator for impending stress.

What are loan sales?

Loan sales may be resorted to by lenders for any reasons ranging from strategic sales to rebalance their exposures or as a means to achieve resolution of stressed assets by extinguishing the exposures.

Highlights of the draft:

  1. Standard assets would be allowed to be sold by lenders through assignment, novation or a loan participation contract (either funded participation or risk participation).
  2. Stressed assets would be allowed to be sold only through assignment or novation only. They may be sold to any entity that is permitted to take on loan exposures by its statutory or regulatory framework.
  3. The draft lays down norms for sale of NPAs to Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) also buy back of NPAs in case the ARCs manage to turn them into standard assets.
  4. The draft also proposes to do away with the requirement of Minimum Retention Requirement (MRR) for sale of loans by lenders.

Relevance:

  • These guidelines will be applicable to commercial banks, all financial institutions, non-banking finance companies and small finance banks.
  • The directions will be applicable to all loan sales, including sale of loans to special purpose entities for the purpose of securitisation.

Significance of these guidelines:

A dynamic secondary market for bank loans will ensure proper discovery of credit risk pricing associated with each exposure, and will be useful as a leading indicator for impending stress, if any, provided that the volumes are sufficiently large.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

GM seeds: the debate, and a sowing agitation

What to study?

For Prelims: GM- meaning, examples, approved crops in India, significance and concerns.

Context: In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved.

So, in this regard, Shetkari Sanghatana — a farmers’ union— has announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds.

What is the movement about?

  • The Sanghatana has announced that this year they are going to undertake large-scale sowing of unapproved GM crops like maize, Ht Bt cotton, soyabean and brinjal across Maharashtra.
  • Farmers who plant such variants will put up boards on their fields proclaiming the GM nature of their crop.
  • This action will draw attention to the need for introduction of the latest technology in the fields.

What are genetically modified seeds?

Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.

For example:

  1. Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  2. Ht Bt cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
  3. In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  4. In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?

In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.

Penalty: Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1986.

Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?

Reduced costs: Cost of weeding goes down considerably if farmers grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. In case of Bt brinjal, the cost reduces as the cost of production is reduced by cutting down on the use of pesticides.

Concerns:

Environmentalists argue that the long-lasting effect of GM crops is yet to be studied and thus they should not be released commercially. Genetic modification, they say, brings about changes that can be harmful to humans in the long run.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Important places and events from Chhattisgarh in News:

Context: Ministry of Tourism brings out the “Hidden Treasures of Chhattisgarh” through 30th webinar under Dekho Apna Desh series.
Places
:

  1. Karkabhat – Megalithic burial site.
  2. Dipadih – Temple complex dating back to the 7th Century.

Others:

Ghotul – It is both an ancient tribal system of education as well as the campus with its own system of hierarchs.

Sonabai– Famous bas relief ornamentation works of Chhattisgarh got its roots when Sonabai made little toys for her son Daroga Ram to lull him to sleep.

World Accreditation Day (WAD):

Celebrated on 9th June every year to highlight as well as promote the role of accreditation in trade & economy.

Theme: “Accreditation: Improving Food Safety”.

The day was jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

certification

 Daulat Beg Oldie:

  • DBO is the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh, in the area better known in Army parlance as Sub-Sector North.
  • It has the world’s highest airstrip, originally built during the 1962 war but abandoned until 2008, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the LAC.
  • DBO is less than 10 km west of the LAC at Aksai Chin. 
  • To the west of DBO is the region where China abuts Pakistan in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, once a part of the erstwhile Kashmir principality.

Why in News?

The construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is said to be the immediate reason behind the standoff between Indian Army and a Chinese Army along LAC.

Built by BRO, the road runs almost parallel to the LAC and connects Leh to DBO.

oldie

Operation Desert Chase:

It was the name of the Anti-espionage operation started by Military Intelligence (MI) in early 2019. It successfully culminated in June 2020 with the arrest of two men. Both were arrested under relevant sections of Official Secrets Act, 1923. 

Context:

Under this operation, Rajasthan Police arrested two civil defence employees in Jaipur based on Military Intelligence (MI) inputs that they had been passing on sensitive information to Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

Athirappilly hydroelectric project:

Context: The Kerala government has issued a fresh no-objection certificate (NOC) for the state electricity board to proceed with the implementation of the proposed Athirapally hydro-electric project, which had been shelved several times in the past due to protests by green activists.

Key facts:

  • The project will have an installed capacity of 163 mw.
  • Under the project, a dam is proposed to be constructed on the Chalakudy River.
  • The Chalakudy River is a tributary of the Periyar River and originates in the Anamalai region of Tamil Nadu.

CPCB to classify railway stations based on waste water generation:

Central Pollution Control Board will classify railway stations under the red, orange and green categories based on the quantity of waste water generated.

Red:  railway stations generating waste water equal to or more than 100 Kilo Litres per Day.

Orange: those greater than 10 KLD but less than 100 KLD.

Green: less than 10 KLD waste water generation.

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Lion census.
  2. Per drop more drop component of PMKSY.
  3. Guidelines for import of exotic species.
  4. Border adjustment tax.
  5. Anti- Viral fabrics.