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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 24 December 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 3:

1. Cairn Energy wins arbitration award against India in tax dispute.

2. Plant based protein innovation: IIT-Delhi’s ‘mock eggs’.

3. Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.

4. Beware of illegal digital lending apps: RBI.

5. ‘Tour of Duty’ recruitment model.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. 100% FDI in DTH services.

2. Merger of four of its film media units.

3. GST: physical verification of premises is now mandatory.

4. Medium Range Surface-To-Air Missile.

5. Kilauea volcano.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Cairn Energy wins arbitration award against India in tax dispute:


What was the case?

Cairn had challenged the Indian government seeking taxes over an internal business reorganisation using the 2012 retrospective tax law, under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.

  • In 2011, Cairn Energy sold its majority stake in Cairn India to Vedanta Ltd, reducing its stake in the Indian company to about 10 per cent.
  • In 2014, the Indian tax department had demanded Rs 10,247 crore ($1.4 billion) in taxes.

What is the latest ruling?

The three-member tribunal also comprised a judge appointed by the Indian government.

It ruled:

  1. India’s claim of Rs 10,247 crore in past taxes over a 2006-07 internal reorganisation of Cairn’s India business was not a valid demand.
  2. India should pay the funds withheld along with the interest to the Scottish oil explorer for seizing dividend, tax refund, and sale of shares to partly recover the dues.
  3. India had breached its obligations to Cairn under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.

How the issue reached arbitration tribunal?

  • Cairn’s claim was brought under the terms of the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty, the legal seat of the tribunal was the Netherlands, and the proceedings were under the registry of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Implications:

This is a second blow to the government in three months on the controversial retrospective tax levy.

  • The development comes as a major setback for the Indian government after Vodafone Group Plc had won an international arbitration case against the Indian government in September.

What next for the Indian Government?

The order does not contain a provision for challenge or appeal against the award, but the Indian government may challenge it, and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will take a final call on challenging the award.

taxing

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Arbitration?
  2. Recent Amendments.
  3. About the International Court of Arbitration.
  4. About the Arbitration Council of India.
  5. Appointment of arbitrators under the 1996 Act.
  6. PCA- composition, functions and members.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Plant based protein innovation: IIT-Delhi’s ‘mock eggs’:


Context:

The innovation of plant-based mock egg by Prof Kavya Dashora, IIT Delhi has secured first prize at Innovate4SDG contest by ‘UNDP (United Nation Development Program) Accelerator Lab India’.

  • The award includes a sum of $5000.

Significance:

  • The development of the mock egg meets the protein needs of the diet-specific, health conscious, vegan and vegetarian people, claims IIT-Delhi.
  • This innovation addresses SDG 2 and 3 (zero hunger and good health and well-being).

What is the Mock Egg?

The mock egg has been developed from very simple farm-based crop proteins, which not only looks and tastes like egg but also very close in nutritional profile to a poultry egg.

just

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is the Mock Egg?
  2. Components.
  3. About lab grown meat.
  4. What are plant fibres?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of plant grown meats.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Energy.

Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020:


Context:

Notified recently.

  • These rules serve to “empower” consumers with rights that would allow them to access continuous supply of quality, reliable electricity.

The following areas are covered under the rules:

  1. Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees;
  2. release of new connection and modification in existing connection;
  3. metering arrangement;
  4. billing and payment;
  5. disconnection and reconnection;
  6. reliability of supply;
  7. consumer as ‘prosumer’;
  8. standards of performance of licensee;
  9. compensation mechanism;
  10. call centre for consumer services;
  11. grievance redressal mechanism.

Key Provisions:

  1. States will have to implement these rules and discoms will be held more accountable for issues like delays in providing and renewing connections of electricity.
  2. They are also obligated to provide round-the-clock electricity to consumers, as per the Ministry of Power.
  3. To ensure compliance, the government will apply penalties that will be credited to the consumer’s account.
  4. There are certain exceptions to these rules, especially where use for agricultural purposes is concerned.

Background:

Electricity is a Concurrent List (Seventh Schedule) subject and the central government has the authority and the power to make laws on it.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Electricity under 7th schedule.
  2. Subjects under seventh Schedule.
  3. What happens when a State’s law is in conflict with Centre’s law.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

Beware of illegal digital lending apps: RBI:


Context:

RBI has released an advisory on digital lending apps.

Background:

The advisory comes in the backdrop of at least three borrowers in Telangana committing suicide in the recent past, following alleged harassment by personnel of such lenders, and many more complaining of being subjected to coercive methods after defaulting on repayments.

Highlights:

  1. Public should be wary of unauthorised digital lending platforms and mobile apps.
  2. Public should verify antecedents of the company/ firm offering loans online or through mobile apps.
  3. Consumers should never share copies of KYC documents with unidentified persons or unverified/unauthorised apps.
  4. They can report such apps/bank account information associated with the apps to law enforcement agencies concerned or use sachet portal (https://sachet.rbi.org.in) to file complaint.

What are the issues wrt digital lending apps?

  1. They attract borrowers with promise of loans in a quick and hassle-free manner.
  2. But, Excessive rates of interest and additional hidden charges are demanded from borrowers.
  3. Such platforms adopt unacceptable and high-handed recovery methods.
  4. They misuse agreements to access data on the mobile phones of the borrowers.

What next?

Cautioning people against falling prey to “such unscrupulous activities,” the RBI said “legitimate public lending activities can be undertaken by banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) registered with RBI and other entities who are regulated by the State governments under statutory provisions, such as the money lending acts of the States concerned.”

RBI_1

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

‘Tour of Duty’ recruitment model:


Context:

Months after it was first proposed by the Army, India’s defence establishment is actively considering expanding the scope of the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment to the Air Force and Navy as well.

There are plans to expand the scheme over the next few years to ensure that close to 40 per cent of the strength of the Army is recruited through it.

  • India’s political leadership is keen on the scheme, given its future potential to generate large-scale employment, and is pushing to working out its modalities.

What is the proposed model?

Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the Short Service Commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years. A large number of SSC officers eventually opt for permanent commission, subject to eligibility.

  • The Army had, in May, proposed the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment that would let young individuals voluntarily serve for a temporary period of three years.
  • It will be a voluntary engagement.
  • It is for youths who “do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of military professionalism”.
  • The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service/job in the Armed Forces, towards ‘internship’/temporary experience for three years.

Benefits for the government:

  1. There are immense financial benefits to the organisation due to reduction in pay and gratuity payouts.
  2. The cost of a three-year service per officer will be a fraction of the cost incurred on Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.
  3. The cost incurred on an officer, who leaves after 10 or 14 years, is Rs 5 crore-Rs 6.8 crore, which includes the cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, leave encashment among others. The corresponding cost for a three-year service will be Rs 80 lakh-85 lakh.
  4. SSC officers have the option to join the service permanently, which further increases the cost incurred, including pension bills.
  5. For soldiers, who usually serve for 17 years, the Army has calculated a lifetime savings of Rs 11.5 crore per person, as compared to a three-year service.

Benefits for citizens and the country:

  1. It will help to “channelise the youth energy into positive utilisation of their potential”.
  2. Rigorous military training and habits inculcated will lead to healthy citizenry.
  3. The entire nation will benefit from “trained, disciplined, confident, diligent and committed” young men or women who have done the three-year service.
  4. An “initial survey” has indicated that the corporate sector will prefer to hire such youths rather than fresh graduates.

Need for:

  • The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasingly steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation.
  • According to a report of Standing Committee of Defence, 2019, the deficiency in officer cadre of Indian Army stood at approximate 14 per cent.
  • Advocates of this scheme also cite “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism”, and the fact that “unemployment in our country is a reality”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. SSC vs Permanent Commission in armed forces.
  2. How can civilians be recruited into armed forces?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Tour of Duty” (ToD) scheme.

Sources: the Print.

 


Facts for Prelims:


100% FDI in DTH services:

The Union Cabinet has given its nod to the following changes in Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting services:

  1. 100% foreign direct investment (FDI).
  2. Licenses will be issued for a period of 20 years, compared to 10 years at the moment, and will be renewed for a 10-year period.
  3. The license fee has been revised from 10 per cent of gross revenue (GR) to 8 per cent of adjusted gross revenue (AGR), which will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR.
  4. Broadcasting firms will have to pay the license fee on quarterly basis, rather than the annual basis as of now.
  5. DTH operators can share infrastructure.

Merger of four of its film media units:

Cabinet has approved the merger of four of its film media units with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) Ltd.

These include:

  1. Films Division.
  2. Directorate of Film Festivals.
  3. National Film Archives of India.
  4. Children’s Film Society, India.

Need for: There was “duplication” between some of these organisations. After coming together, the governance will become better.

GST: physical verification of premises is now mandatory:

The government has introduced mandatory physical verification of business premises for the purposes of obtaining GST registration.

  • The move is aimed at controlling the menace of GST fake invoice frauds.
  • Now there must be in-person verification before registration is granted to an applicant. Further, in case an applicant opts for Aadhaar authentication, he will undergo biometric-based Aadhaar authentication at one of the facilitation Centres notified by the Commissioner.

impact_gst

Medium Range Surface-To-Air Missile:

Context: Successfully test-fired.

  • The DRDO has jointly developed the missile in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries.
  • Manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
  • The Army variant of the MRSAM system comprises a command post, a multi-function radar and mobile launcher system.

Kilauea volcano:

  • The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted recently.
  • Also called Mount Kilauea, the Volcano is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the southeastern part of the island of Hawaii, U.S.A.

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