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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 23 September 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 Arab League?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What are International Financial Services Centres (IFSC)?

2. What are govt securities?

3. What are non-banking financial companies- microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFIs)?

4. What is net neutrality?

5. Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

6. National Investigation Agency (NIA).

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Successful flight test of ABHYAS.

2. J&K Official Languages Bill.

3. PASSEX

4. World Rhino Day.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

What is Arab League?


It is a regional organization of Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia.

Formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Currently, the League has 22 members, but Syria’s participation has been suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of government repression during the Syrian Civil War.

  • Main goal is to “draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries “.

Why in News?

In a response to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalising their ties with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has formally stepped down from a key role in the Arab League.

What’s the issue?

The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain signed deals in Washington on September 15, which despite being hailed as “the dawn of the new Middle East” by the Trump Administration, drew criticism from the Palestinians – seen as a serious blow to their efforts to end illegal Israeli occupation and achieve an independent state.

arab

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Arab league- formation.
  2. Composition.
  3. Functions.
  4. Israel- Palestine issue.
  5. Two- Nation theory.

Mains Link:

What does US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean to various stakeholders? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

What are International Financial Services Centres (IFSC)?


An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy.

  • Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.
  • London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres.

Services an IFSC can provide:

  • Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.
  • Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds.
  • Wealth management.
  • Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
  • Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.
  • Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.
  • Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.

Can an IFSC be set up in a special economic zone (SEZ)?

The SEZ Act 2005 allows setting up an IFSC in an SEZ or as an SEZ after approval from the central government.

IFSCs in India:

The first IFSC in India has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.

gift

Why in News?

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) have entered into a formal agreement to cement the key terms for operationalising the NSE IFSC-SGX Connect.

●        This will bring together international and Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) participants to create a bigger liquidity pool for Nifty products in GIFT City.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are IFSCs?
  2. Can they be set up in SEZs?
  3. India’s first IFSC.
  4. Services they provide?
  5. Limitations.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of international financial services centres.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

What are govt securities?


A government security (G-Sec) is a tradeable instrument issued by the central government or state governments.

Key features:

  • It acknowledges the government’s debt obligations.
  • Such securities can be both short term (treasury bills — with original maturities of less than one year) or long term (government bonds or dated securities — with original maturity of one year or more).
  • The central government issues both: treasury bills and bonds or dated securities.
  • State governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the state development loans.
  • Since they are issued by the government, they carry no risk of default, and hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.
  • FPIs are allowed to participate in the G-Secs market within the quantitative limits prescribed from time to time.

Why are G-secs volatile?

G- Sec prices fluctuate sharply in the secondary markets. Factors affecting their prices:

  • Demand and supply of the securities.
  • Changes in interest rates in the economy and other macro-economic factors, such as, liquidity and inflation.
  • Developments in other markets like money, foreign exchange, credit and capital markets.
  • Developments in international bond markets, specifically the US Treasuries.
  • Policy actions by RBI like change in repo rates, cash-reserve ratio and open-market operations.
Why in News?

From April 7 to September 22 in this financial year, 27 States and 2 Union Territories have cumulatively raised ₹3.26 lakh crore via State government securities or State development loans (SDLs).

●        This is a 45% increase from the borrowings in the corresponding period of 2019-20.

●        Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan have been the top 5 borrowing States, accounting for 54% of total borrowings by States so far.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are G-Secs?
  2. Short and long term securities.
  3. Powers of the Centre and states to issue these instruments.
  4. Role of RBI.
  5. Factors which affect the prices of these securities.

Mains Link:

What are G-Secs? Why are they significant? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

What are non-banking financial companies- microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFIs)?


NBFC MFI is a non-deposit taking NBFC (other than a company licensed u/s 25 of the Indian Companies Act, 1956) that meets the following conditions:

  1. Minimum Net Owned Funds (NOF) of Rs.5 crore. (For those registered in the North Eastern Region of the country, Rs. 2 crore is required as minimum NOF).
  2. At least 85% of its Total Net Assets are in the nature of “Qualifying Assets.”

What are Qualifying Assets?

“Net assets” are total assets excluding cash, bank balances, and money market instruments.

“Qualifying assets” are those assets which have a substantial period of time to be ready for its intended use or sale.

rbi

Why in News?

Loan disbursements by non-banking financial companies-microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFIs) declined 96% to ₹570 crore in the first quarter of the current financial year, according to a report by Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN).

●        It had stood at ₹15,865 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NBFCs- meaning.
  2. Types.
  3. NBFCs under RBI.
  4. NBFC-MFI- eligibility, functions.
  5. What is Net Owned Funds?
  6. What are Qualifying Assets?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.

What is net neutrality?


Net neutrality means that governments and internet service providers treat all data on the internet equally and does not differentially charge consumers for higher-quality delivery or giving preferential treatment to certain websites.

  • Network neutrality requires all Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide the same level of data access and speed to all traffic, and that traffic to one service or website cannot be blocked or degraded.

How net neutrality is treated/regulated in India?

Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016.

  • These regulations prohibit Telecom Service Providers from charging different tariffs from consumers for accessing different services online.

neutrality

Why in News?

TRAI recently suggested the setting up of a multi-stakeholder body (MSB) to ensure that internet service providers in the country adhere to the principles of net neutrality.

The proposal:

Composition:

The MSB should be a forum which would contain representatives and stakeholders from all telecom and internet service providers, content providers, researchers from the academic and technical community, as well as the government.

Functions:

  • Assist the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in monitoring, and proposing technical standards and methodologies for the best practices to be adopted for traffic management practices.
  • Assist the DoT in enforcement of the best practices and handling of complaints on net neutrality.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Net neutrality?
  2. Examples.
  3. TRAI guidelines on this.

Mains Link:

What do you understand by net neutrality? Why is it significant? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority:


EPCA is a Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region.

It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Composition:

Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Powers:

It has the power suo-moto, or on the basis of complaints made by any individual, representative body or organization functioning in the field of environment.

Functions:

  • To protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region.
  • To enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.
Why in News?

EPCA recently wrote to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana stating that early burning of crop residue was taking place and urged them to address the issue “urgently”.

grap

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Is EPCA a statutory body?
  2. When and why was it established?
  3. Powers and functions.
  4. Composition.
  5. What is Graded Response Action Plan?

Mains Link:

What is stubble burning? Why is it a cause for concern? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

National Investigation Agency (NIA):


It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:

  1. affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  2. against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  3. smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.

It is also the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.

  • It is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • Established under the National Investigation Agency Act 2008.
  • Works under the Ministry of Hime Affairs.

nia

Jurisdiction:

  • A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offences as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
  • Central Government can also order NIA to take over investigation of any scheduled offense anywhere in the India.

Composition:

Officers of the NIA are drawn from the Indian Police Service and Indian Revenue Service.

Special NIA Courts:

Various Special Courts have been notified by the Central Government of India.

  • Any question as to the jurisdiction of these courts is decided by the Central Government.
  • These are presided over by a judge appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court with jurisdiction in that region.
  • Supreme Court of India has also been empowered to transfer the cases from one special court to any other special court within or outside the state.

Powers:

The NIA Special Courts are empowered with all powers of the court of sessions under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for trial of any offense.

Appeals:

An appeal from any judgement, sentence or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a Special Court lies to the High Court both on facts and on law. State Governments have also been empowered to appoint one or more such special courts in their states.

Why in News?

The government has empowered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act so that the agency need not rely on local police to unravel drug trade ties that emerge during counter-terrorism operations.

●        NIA officers of inspector rank and above have been vested with the same powers as an officer in charge of a police station under the 1985 NDPS law.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Successful flight test of ABHYAS:

DRDO recently conducted the successful flight test of ABHYAS–High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT).

Key features:

  • Abhyas is designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), DRDO.
  • The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight.

Usage:

Abhyas’s radar cross-section (RCS) and its visual and infrared signatures can be used to simulate a variety of aircraft for air-defense weapon practices. It can also function as a jammer platform and decoy.

abhyas

J&K Official Languages Bill:

The Lok Sabha has passed the J&K Official Languages Bill, 2020 that seeks to include Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as the official languages in the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Earlier, only English and Urdu were the official languages in the former State.

Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020:

Passed by both the houses of Parliament.

Key Points:

  • The Bill will declare 5 IIITs in Public-Private Partnership mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala & Raichur as Institutions of National Importance by granting them statutory status along with the already existing 15 IIITs under the IIIT (PPP) Act, 2017.
  • It will entitle the institutions to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or PhD degree as issued by a University or Institution of National Importance.

Passage Exercise (PASSEX):

Indian Navy (IN) is scheduled to undertake a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the East Indian Ocean Region from 23 to 24 Sep 20.

  • PASSEXs are regularly conducted by IN with units of friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.

passex

World Rhino Day:

Celebrated on September 22.

It celebrates all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

In 2010 the first World Rhinoceros Day was celebrated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

IUCN Status:

  • ‘Critically endangered’ species are- Javan Rhinos, Sumatran rhinos and black rhinos.
  • The White Rhinos have been declared ‘near threatened’ while one-horned rhinos are said to be vulnerable to extinction.

rhino


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