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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 20 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 1:

1. Keeladi excavations.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Rule of Law index.

2. PM Svanidhi.

3. What is GAFA tax?

4. Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Individual contributions to NDRF get green light from Finance Ministry.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. SATYABHAMA portal.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Keeladi excavations

The Context:

Skeletal remains of a child excavated as part of Keeladi’s 6th phase excavation. The skeleton was found buried between two terracotta urns.

All about Keeladi excavations:

  1. Excavations in Keeladi prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam era on the banks of the river Vaigai. 
  2. Many antiquities have been unearthed that provide crucial evidence to understanding the missing links of the Iron Age [12th century BCE to 6th century BCE] to the Early Historic Period [6th century BCE to 4th century BCE] and subsequent cultural developments.
  3. Literate society: Tamil Brahmi letters found were inscribed when the pot was wet or after the pot became dry. This clearly suggests literacy levels in the 6th century BC.
  4. Agrarian society that reared cattle: Skeletal fragments of cow/ox, buffalo, sheep, goat, nilgai, blackbuck, wild boar and peacock were found.
  5. High standard of living: Long walls, Well-laid floors along with roof tiles in a collapsed state, iron nails fastened to the poles and rafters prove a high standard of living during the Sangam age.
  6. Items found: Brick structures, terracotta ring wells, fallen roofing with tiles, golden ornaments, broken parts of copper objects, iron implements, terracotta chess pieces, ear ornaments, spindle whorls, figurines, black and redware, rouletted ware and a few pieces of Arretine ware, besides beads made of glass, terracotta and semi-precious stones.
  7. Graffiti marks are found in earthenware, caves and rocks in or near the excavation sites.

graffiti_marks

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is Keeladi?
  2. What is Sangam era?
  3. Key elements unearthed at the site?
  4. Trade during sangam era.
  5. Use of gold coins in ancient India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Rule of Law index

Why in News?

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court asking the Court to direct the government to setup expert panels to boost India’s prospects in the Rule of Law Index.

What has the petitioner demanded?

A direction to the government to constitute expert committees to examine the best practices of the countries ranked among top 20 in Rule of Law Index-2020 and accordingly take steps to improve the “pathetic ranking” of India.

 And why these demands have been made?

On March 11, the World Justice Project announced the Rule of Law Index and ranked India in the 69th position.

  • India has never been ranked even among top 50 in the Index, but successive governments did nothing to improve international ranking of India.
  • The nation’s ranking in the Index “confirms poor performance in eight sectors, constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, public order and security, regulatory enforcement and civil and criminal justice”.
  • Besides, poor rule of law has a devastating effect on right to life, liberty, economic justice, fraternity, individual dignity and national integration.
  • It also offends rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21.

What has the Court said?

This was not an “appropriate case” for the court and a representation to this effect can be made to the government for taking action.

This petition may be treated as representation by the respondents for such appropriate actions as may be found appropriate, which may be decided within a period of six months.

performers

Additional information:

What is Rule of Law index?

Released by the World Justice Project- an independent organisation.

It is a quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice.

The index covers 128 countries.

How are countries ranked?

It measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors:

(1) Constraints on Government Powers, (2) Absence of Corruption, (3) Open Government, (4) Fundamental Rights, (5) Order and Security, (6) Regulatory Enforcement, (7) Civil Justice, and (8) Criminal Justice.

How is rule of law defined?

The World Justice Project defines the rule of law system as one in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, efficient, and fair.
  4. Justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who releases the Rule of Law index?
  2. Factors on which countries are ranked?
  3. Top 10 and bottom 10 as per the 2020 report.
  4. India’s performance this year and past years.
  5. What is a petition?
  6. Article 32.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the rule of law index. Discuss how India can perform better in this.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

PM Svanidhi

Context:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has signed MoU with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) in order to engage SIDBI as the Implementation Agency for PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) – a Special Micro-Credit Facility for Street Vendors.

Role of SIDBI:

SIDBI will manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).

It will develop and maintain a customized and integrated IT Platform providing end-to-end solutions to ensure engagement and information flow between Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), Lending Institutions, Digital Payment Aggregators and other stakeholders.

Overview of the scheme:

  1. It is a special micro-credit facility plan to provide affordable loan of up to ₹10,000 to more than 50 lakh street vendors, who had their businesses operational on or before 24 March.
  2. The scheme is valid until March 2022.
  3. Small Industries Development Bank of India is the technical partner for implementation of this scheme.
  4. It will manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises.

Loans under the scheme:

  • Under the scheme, vendors can avail working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments within one year.
  • On timely/early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy of 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) on six-months basis.
  • There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.

Eligibility:

The scheme is applicable to vendors, hawkers, thelewalas, rehriwalas, theliphadwalas in different areas/contexts who supply goods and services. Street vendors belonging to the surrounding peri-urban/rural areas are also included.

Need for:

The lockdown has affected the lives and livelihoods of many especially daily wagers including street vendors who businesses were affected due to the restrictions.

  • Street vendors usually work with a small capital base taken on very high interest rates from informal sources. Further, they might have consumed their savings and high cost capital during the lockdown.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to provide affordable credit for working capital through formal banking channel to street vendors to help them resume the business.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Validity of the scheme.
  2. Who implements?
  3. Eligibility under the scheme?
  4. Rate of interest?
  5. What is SIDBI?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of PM SVANIDHI scheme.

Striving

Sources: pib.

 

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

What is GAFA tax?

Why in News?

The United States has reportedly pulled out of talks aimed at overhauling the global tax system for digital giants.

With this, France has now confirmed an “impasse” on the so-called GAFA tax.

 What’s the concern now?

France as well as U.K., Spain, Italy and others have imposed taxes on the largest digital firms.

U.S. officials have slammed the moves as discriminating against American firms, and say any new levies should come only as part of a broader overhaul of international tax rules.

  • Now, the US withdrawal from talks risks reigniting a transatlantic trade spat.

Background:

In January, 137 countries agreed to negotiate a deal on how to tax tech multinationals by 2020-end, under the auspices of the OECD.

France, Britain, Italy and Spain have already sent a reply expressing their desire to agree on “a fair digital tax at the level of the OECD as quickly as possible.

Additional information:

What is GAFA tax?

GAFA tax—named after Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon—is a proposed digital tax to be levied on large technology and internet companies. France has decided to introduce the tax (3% tax on revenues from digital activities).

The rationale for having separate taxation on digital firms:

  1. Existing tax norms that are framed envisaging brick and mortar business models are not suitable to regulate online services.
  2. The technology companies differ from traditional businesses as a result of user participation in creating value, which, in turn, translates into revenue.
  3. The often complex corporate structures set up by several companies that derive huge revenues from major European economies but allow them slash their tax bills by shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. (Base Erosion and Profit Sharing issue)

European countries in particular say the so-called GAFA — Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — are unfairly exploiting tax rules that let them declare profits in low-tax havens, depriving them of a fair share of their fiscal payments.

Digital tax in India:

India has the second-largest online users in the world, with over 560 million internet users, and hence, from the viewpoint of its tax revenue base, digital businesses could not be overlooked. However, as is the case in other jurisdictions, Indian tax laws were suited for conventional business models such as brick and mortar stores and thus in dire need of an overhaul.

Recent Amendments:

To ensure that value created digitally is appropriately taxed; two significant amendments were introduced in Indian taxation laws in the recent past –

  1. The “Equalization Levy” –

A tax aimed at foreign digital companies has been in place since 2016 and levied a 6% tax payable on gross revenues from online advertising services, which raked over Rs. 550 crores in fiscal year 2017-2018.

  • The new amendment, effective from April 1, 2020, essentially expands the equalization levy from online advertising to nearly all online commerce activitiesdone in India by businesses that do not have taxable presence in India through applicability of 2% on its revenues.
  • Specifically, it is levied on consideration receivable by the e-commerce operator for supply or services or facilitation of supply or service to – Person resident in India, Non-resident under specified circumstances such as through sale of data collected from a person resident in India, and Person who buys goods or services through an IP address located in India.
  1. The concept of “Significant Economic Presence” (SEP):

Introduced for the purposes of corporate income tax, which expanded to include the following:

  • Advertisement which targets a customer residing in India or who accesses advertisement through internet protocol (IP) address located in India.
  • Sale of data collected from a person residing in India or who uses an IP address located in India.
  • Sale of goods/services using data collected from a person residing in India or who uses IP address located in India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. OECD- objectives, members and eligibility.
  2. What is GAFA tax?
  3. Which European countries have imposed tax on large digital firms?
  4. What is the equalisation levy?
  5. Applicability of this levy in India.
  6. Applicability of the concept of “Significant Economic Presence” (SEP).

Mains Link:

What is GAFA tax? Which countries have imposed it? Discuss its significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)

Why in News?

China has released genome sequencing data for the coronavirus responsible for a recent outbreak in Beijing. It has shared this data with WHO and GISAID.

What the data suggest?

  1. At least one of the strains tied to the Chinese capital’s largest wholesale food market had reportedly shown similarities to a strain found in Europe.
  2. Local confirmed infections had been recorded for five consecutive days in two areas, apparently referencing Beijing and the neighbouring province of Hebei.

Background:

Beijing has seen 183 confirmed cases since the outbreak last week at the Xinfadi market and the situation for prevention remains very grave.

What is genomic sequencing?

Genomic sequencing is a technique that allows us to read and interpret genetic information found within DNA or RNA.

Why is it important to understand the genomic sequence of COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV2 genome, as it is formally known, has about 30,000 base pairs, somewhat like a long string with 30,000 places where each one of these occupy one of four chemicals called nucleotides.

  • This long string, with its unique combination of nucleotides, is what uniquely identifies the virus and is called its genomic sequence.
  • A look at virus genome sequences from patient samples that test positive for COVID-19 helps researchers to understand how the virus is evolving as it spreads. So far, there are over 1,000 COVID-19 genomes that have been published worldwide.

Therefore, sequencing is necessary because:

  1. It helps track the transmission route of the virus globally.
  2. It can determine how quickly the virus is adapting as it spreads.
  3. It identifies targets to therapies.
  4. It is required to understand the role of co-infection.

What is GISAID?

The GISAID platform was launched on the occasion of the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008.

GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source for genomic data of influenza viruses and and the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

  • In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany became the official host of the GISAID platform and EpiFlu™ database providing sustainability of the platform and stability through its public-private-partnership with the GISAID Initiative to this day.
  • In 2013 the European Commission recognized GISAID as a research organization and partner in the PREDEMICS consortium, a project on the Preparedness, Prediction and the Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using multidisciplinary approaches.

Key role:

The Initiative ensures that open access to data in GISAID is provided free-of-charge to all individuals that agreed to identify themselves and agreed to uphold the GISAID sharing mechanism governed through its Database Access Agreement.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Genome Sequencing?
  2. How it works?
  3. RNA vs DNA.
  4. Who administers GISAID.

Mains Link:

What is genome sequencing? How it helps prevent the spread of COVID 19?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Disaster and disaster management.

Individual contributions to NDRF get green light from Finance Ministry

Context:

The Finance Ministry has given approval to a proposal to allow individuals and institutions to contribute directly to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

Significance and implications of this move:

This is a significant development at a time when many have expressed concerns about donations sent to the PM CARES Fund or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, as both claim they are not public authorities subject to questions under the Right to Information Act.

About NDRF:

The NDRF was set up in accordance with Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

It is meant to “meet the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation” for any threatening disaster situation.

It is a fund managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.

Constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.

  • Although Section 46 includes a clause regarding grants made by any person or institution, provisions for such donations had not been made.

Located in the “Public Accounts” of Government of India under “Reserve Funds not bearing interest“.

What is PMNRF? When was it setup?

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan.

  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, etc.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NDRF- establishment, funding and management.
  2. What is Section 46 of DM Act?
  3. What is PMNRF?
  4. What is PMCARES?
  5. What is a public account?
  6. Who is a public authority?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


SATYABHAMA portal:

  • Launched by Ministry of Mines.
  • SATYABHAMA stands for Science and Technology Yojana for Aatmanirbhar Bharat in Mining Advancement.
  • Designed, developed and implemented by National Informatics Centre (NIC), Mines Informatics Division.
  • It allows online submission of project proposals along with monitoring of the projects and utilization of funds / grants. The researchers can also submit progress reports and Final Technical Reports of the projects in the electronic format in the portal.

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. 32nd special Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) plenary meeting.
  2. PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Yojana.
  3. Coal Sector reforms.

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