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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 26 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. National Medical Commission.

2. Retrospective taxation: the Vodafone case, and the Hague court ruling.

3. G7 backs extension of debt freeze.

GS Paper 3:

1. Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs).

2. NASA’s sonification project.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. ‘Faceless I-T’ comes into operation.

2. What are high security number plates?

3. Fridays for Future.

5. JIMEX 2020.

6. Pinaka rocket system.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

National Medical Commission:


Context:

The Union government has set up the National Medical Commission (NMC) along with four other autonomous boards while abolishing the MCI.

The four autonomous boards include:

  1. Undergraduate Medical Education Board.
  2. Postgraduate Medical Education Board.
  3. Medical Assessment and Rating Board.
  4. Ethics and Medical Registration Board.

These boards have been constituted to help the NMC in day-to-day functioning.

About the National Medical Commission:

The Centre has notified the 33-member NMC, which will be chaired for three years by Suresh Chandra Sharma.

  • Apart from the Chairman, the NMC will consist of 10 ex-officio members and 22 part-time members appointed by the Central government.

Functions of NMC:

  1. laying down policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals.
  2. assessing the requirements of human resources and infrastructure in healthcare.
  3. ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils with the regulations made under the Bill.
  4. framing guidelines for determination of fee for up to 50% of the seats in the private medical institutions.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Medical Council of India.
  2. About NMC.
  3. Autonomous boards constituted.
  4. Functions of NMC.
  5. Composition.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of the newly constituted National Medical Commission (NMC).

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Retrospective taxation: the Vodafone case, and the Hague court ruling:


Context:

In a unanimous decision, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has ruled that:

  1. India’s retrospective demand of Rs 22,100 crore as capital gains and withholding tax imposed on Vodafone for a 2007 deal was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”.
  2. India should not to pursue the tax demand any more against Vodafone Group.

What is the case?

  1. In May 2007, Vodafone bought a 67% stake in Hutchison Whampoa for $11 billion.
  2. In September that year, Indian government raised a demand of Rs 7,990 crore in capital gains and withholding tax from Vodafone, saying the company should have deducted the tax at source before making a payment to Hutchison.
  3. Vodafone challenged the demand notice in the Bombay High Court, which ruled in favour of the Income Tax Department.
  4. Then, Vodafone challenged the judgment in the Supreme Court, which in 2012 ruled that Vodafone Group’s interpretation of the Income Tax Act of 1961 was correct and that it did not have to pay any taxes for the stake purchase.
  5. But, the same year, the then Finance Minister, the late Pranab Mukherjee, circumvented the Supreme Court’s ruling by proposing an amendment to the Finance Act, thereby giving the Income Tax Department the power to retrospectively tax such deals.

The case had by then become infamous as the ‘retrospective taxation case’.

What happened after India passed the retrospective taxation law?

The Act was passed by Parliament in 2012 and the onus to pay the taxes fell back on Vodafone.

  • Later, Vodafone Group invoked Clause 9 of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed between India and the Netherlands in 1995.

Article 9 of the BIT says that any dispute between “an investor of one contracting party and the other contracting party in connection with an investment in the territory of the other contracting party” shall as far as possible be settled amicably through negotiations.

What is the Bilateral Investment Treaty?

The BIT was signed for promotion and protection of investment by companies of each country in the other’s jurisdiction.

  • The two countries would, under the BIT, ensure that companies present in each other’s jurisdictions would be “at all times be accorded fair and equitable treatment and shall enjoy full protection and security in the territory of the other”.

What did the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague say?

  • It ruled in favour of Vodafone. Because, the taxation was in violation of the BIT and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
  • The tribunal also said that now since it had been established that India had breached the terms of the agreement, it must now stop efforts to recover the said taxes from Vodafone.
  • It also directed India to pay £4.3 million ($5.47 million) to the company as compensation for its legal costs.

What is retrospective taxation?

As the name suggests, retrospective taxation allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.

  • Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes.
  • While governments often use a retrospective amendment to taxation laws to “clarify” existing laws, it ends up hurting companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.

long_taxing

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. PCA- composition, functions and members.
  2. Are PCA rulings binding on parties.
  3. Clause 9 of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed between India and the Netherlands in 1995.
  4. What is retrospective taxation?
  5. Overview of UNCITRAL.

Mains Link:

Discuss the functions and significance of PCA.

Sources: the Hindu and Indian Express.

 

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

G7 backs extension of debt freeze:


Context:

G7 finance ministers has backed an extension of a G20 bilateral debt relief initiative for the world’s poorest countries, but said it must be revised to address shortcomings hindering implementation.

About the G20 bilateral debt relief initiative:

G20 nations, in April this year, agreed to freeze bilateral government loan repayments for low-income countries until the end of the year as part of a plan to tackle the health and economic crises triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and prevent an emerging markets debt crunch.

  • The group also called on private creditors “to participate in the initiative on comparable terms” and asked multilateral development banks, such as the IMF and World Bank, “to further explore the options for the suspension of debt service payments over the suspension period”.

What is G7?

The G7, originally G8, was set up in 1975 as an informal forum bringing together the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations.

  • The summit gathers leaders from the European Union (EU) and the following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

g20_g8_g7

How did G7 become G8?

  • Russia was formally inducted as a member in the group in 1998, which led G7 to become G8.
  • However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s condemnable act of moving Russian troops into eastern Ukraine and conquering Crimea in 2014 drew heavy criticism from the other G8 nations.
  • The other nations of the group decided to suspend Russia from the G8 as a consequence of its actions and the group became G7 again in 2014.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. G7 vs G8 vs G20.
  2. Geographical location of member countries.

Mains Link:

Discuss the relevance of G7 countries today. What are the reforms necessary to make the grouping more effective?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs):


What?

Three insurers- Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) and New India Assurance Co.- have been recognised as Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs) for 2020-21.

By?

Insurance Regulator and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).

What are D- SIIs?

D-SIIs refer to insurers of such size, market importance and domestic and global inter-connectedness whose distress or failure would cause a significant dislocation in the domestic financial system.

  • D-SIIs are perceived as insurers that are ‘too big or too important to fail’ (TBTF).
  • Therefore, the continued functioning of D-SIIs is critical for the uninterrupted availability of insurance services to the national economy.

How are they classified?

To identify such insurers and put them to enhanced monitoring mechanism, IRDAI has developed a methodology for identification and supervision of D-SIIs.

The parameters, as per the methodology, include:

  1. Size of operations in terms of total revenue, including premium underwritten and the value of assets under management.
  2. Global activities across more than one jurisdiction.

Implications:

  • The three insurers will now be subjected to enhanced regulatory supervision.
  • They have also been asked to raise the level of corporate governance, identify all relevant risks and promote a sound risk management culture.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About D-SIIs.
  2. Who can declare them?
  3. Implications.
  4. Recent additions.
  5. Functions of IRDAI.

Mains Link:

What are Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs)? Why are they considered too big or too important to fail’ (TBTF).

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

NASA’s sonification project:


Context:

The sonification project is led by the Chandra X-ray Center in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning Program (UoL).

The objective of the project is to transform data from astronomical images into audio.

  • This project allows audiences — including visually-impaired communities — to experience space through data.

What is data sonification?

It refers to the use of sound values to represent real data. Simply put, it is the auditory version of data visualisation.

chandra_x-ray

How did NASA translate astronomical images into sound?

  • NASA’s distant telescopes in space collect inherently digital data, in the form of ones and zeroes, before converting them into images.
  • The images are essentially visual representations of light and radiation of different wavelengths in space, that can’t be seen by the human eye.
  • The Chandra project has created a celestial concert of sorts by translating the same data into sound. Pitch and volume are used to denote the brightness and position of a celestial object or phenomenon.

Ready projects:

So far, the astronomers behind Project Chandra have released three examples made using data collected from some of the most distinct features in the sky — the Galactic Centre, Cassiopeia A, and Pillars of Creation Nebula.

Significance of the project:

  • With this data sonification project, users can now experience different phenomena captured in astronomical images as an aural experience.
  • The birth of a star, a cloud of dust or even a black hole can now be ‘heard’ as a high or low pitched sound.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Data Sonification?
  2. About NASA’s data sonification project.
  3. How did NASA translate astronomical images into sound?
  4. About the Chandra X Ray observatory.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


‘Faceless I-T’ comes into operation:

The government has issued a notification operationalising ‘Faceless Income Tax Appeals’ system. It was announced last month.

It seeks to honour honest taxpayers of the country and promote transparency in tax collection.

  • Under faceless appeals, all Income Tax appeals will be finalised in a faceless manner under the faceless ecosystem.
  • The system is not applicable in case of appeals relating to serious frauds, major tax evasion, sensitive and search matters, international tax and Black Money Act.

key_takeaways

What are high-security number plates?

  • HSRPs are chrome-based hologram plates manufactured through a process of hot-stamping and laser-branding a unique identification number, which cannot be duplicated, linked to the central vehicular database of the Union government.
  • The plates are also supposed to help authorities in tracking authenticity of vehicle ownerships, which will help in criminal probes, curb illegal sale in the grey market, and prevent thefts and forging of number plates.
  • Through an amendment in Rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, of India has made HSRP mandatory.

Why in News?

The process of booking high security registration plates (HSRPs) has been made easier following the Delhi government’s public appeal to citizens to get these installed.

no_plate

Fridays For Future:

The FFF is a global climate strike movement that started in August 2018, when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began a strike in Sweden.

  • It is an international movement of school students who take time off from class to participate in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming.

change_politics

JIMEX 20:

  • It is a bilateral Maritime Exercise Between Japan and India.
  • The 4th edition of the exercise will be held in the North Arabian Sea from 26 to 28 September 2020.
  • JIMEX is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
  • JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation.

Pinaka rocket system:

Why in News?

In an important milestone in the induction of the Pinaka rocket system in the Armed forces, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently handed over the Authority Holding Sealed Particulars (AHSP) of the system to the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) of the Ministry of Defence.

Key points:

  • Pinaka is a free flight artillery rocket system having a range of 37.5 km.
  • Pinaka rockets are launched from a multi-barrel rocket launcher which has a capability to launch 12 rockets in 44 seconds.
  • The weapon system is designed and developed by Pune-based DRDO lab, Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE).

pinaka_rocket_system

 

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Graphene.

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