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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 05 JANUARY 2022

 

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. GST compensation.

2. China constructing bridge on Pangong lake in Ladakh.

3. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

4. Russia vs NATO in Ukraine.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Why is the world short of computer chips, and why does it matters?

2. Where does the 5G rollout stand?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Institute of Mathematical Sciences is 60.

2. RBI approves small, offline e-payments.


GST compensation:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Context:

Finance Ministers of several States have demanded that the GST compensation scheme be extended beyond June 2022.

 

What’s the issue?

The adoption of GST was made possible by States ceding almost all their powers to impose local-level indirect taxes and agreeing to let the prevailing multiplicity of imposts be subsumed into the GST.

  • This was agreed on the condition that revenue shortfalls arising from the transition to the new indirect taxes regime would be made good from a pooled GST Compensation Fund for a period of five years that is set to end in June 2022.

 

Need for extension:

Citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall economy and more specifically States’ revenues, the States including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh stressed that while their revenues had been adversely impacted by the introduction of GST, the hit from the pandemic had pushed back any possible rebound in revenue especially at a time when they had been forced to spend substantially more to address the public health emergency and its socio-economic fallout on their residents.

 

What is the GST compensation?

The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, was the law which created the mechanism for levying a common nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST).

While States would receive the SGST (State GST) component of the GST, and a share of the IGST (integrated GST), it was agreed that revenue shortfalls arising from the transition to the new indirect taxes regime would be made good from a pooled GST Compensation Fund for a period of five years that is currently set to end in June 2022.

 

How is the GST Compensation Fund funded?

This corpus is funded through a compensation cess that is levied on so-called ‘demerit’ goods.

  • The items are pan masala, cigarettes and tobacco products, aerated water, caffeinated beverages, coal and certain passenger motor vehicles.

 

Computation of the shortfall:

The computation of the shortfall is done annually by projecting a revenue assumption based on 14% compounded growth from the base year’s (2015-2016) revenue and calculating the difference between that figure and the actual GST collections in that year.

 

Can the deadline be extended? If so, how?

The deadline for GST compensation was set in the original legislation and so in order to extend it, the GST Council must first recommend it and the Union government must then move an amendment to the GST law allowing for a new date beyond the June 2022 deadline at which the GST compensation scheme will come to a close.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that even now the compensation cess will continue to be levied well beyond the current fiscal year since the borrowings made in lieu of the shortfalls in the compensation fund would need to be met?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is GST?
  2. What are SGST and IGST?
  3. Related Constitutional provisions.
  4. Goods outside the purview of GST.
  5. What is a Cess?
  6. What is a surcharge?
  7. What is the compensation cess fund?

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for GST Compensation Cess.

Sources: the Hindu.

China constructing bridge on Pangong lake in Ladakh:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: India and its neighbours.

 

Context:

China is constructing a bridge in eastern Ladakh connecting the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake).

 

About the Bridge:

On the north bank, there is a PLA garrison at Kurnak fort and on the south bank at Moldo, and the distance between the two is around 200 km.

  • The new bridge between the closest points on two banks, which is around 500 m, will bring down the movement time between the two sectors from around 12 hours to three or four hours.
  • This will significantly bring down the time for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to move troops and equipment between the two sectors.
  • The bridge is located around 25 km ahead of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

 

Current Afffairs

 

About Pangong Tso:

  • Pangong Tso literally translates into a “conclave lake”. Pangong means conclave in Ladakhi and Tso means lake in Tibetan language.
  • Situated at over 14,000 feet, the Lake is about 135 km long.
  • It is formed from Tethys geosyncline.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range, which crosses Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India, with heights of over 6,000 meters including K2, the world’s second highest peak, ends at the north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • Its southern bank too has high broken mountains sloping towards Spangur Lake in the south.
  • The lake’s water, while crystal clear, is brackish, making it undrinkable.

 

Why there is a dispute here?

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the line that separates Indian and Chinese troops since 1962 – generally runs along the land except for the width of Pangong Tso. Here, it runs through water.

Both sides have marked their areas announcing which side belongs to which country.

India controls about 45 km stretch of the Pangong Tso and China the rest.

 

What are fingers?

The lake has mountain spurs of the Chang Chenmo range jutting down, referred to as fingers.

There are eight of them in contention here. India and China have different understanding of where the LAC passes through.

  • India has maintained that the LAC passes through Finger 8, which has been the site of the final military post of China.
  • India has been patrolling the area – mostly on foot because of the nature of the terrain – up to Finger 8. But Indian forces have not had active control beyond Finger 4.
  • China, on the other hand, says the LAC passes through Finger 2. It has been patrolling up to Finger 4- mostly in light vehicles, and at times up to Finger 2.

 

Why does China want to encroach areas alongside Pangong Tso?

Pangong Tso is strategically crucial as it is very close to Chusul Valley, which was one of the battlefronts between India and China during the 1962 war.

  • China appears to keep India constricted in the region by taking strategic advantage of looking over the Chusul Valley, which it can do if it advances along Pangong Tso.
  • China also does not want India to boost its infrastructure anywhere near the LAC. China fears it threatens its occupation of Aksai Chin and Lhasa-Kashgar highway.
  • Any threat to this highway also puts Chinese rather imperialist plans in Pakistan-occupied territories in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and beyond in Pakistan.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard of the Ice Stupas of Ladhak? Read Here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims links:

  1. Geographical position of all areas which were point of contention between the two armies.
  2. Important geographical features in these areas. Ex: Rivers, mountain valleys etc.

Mains links:

Discuss the steps taken by China and India to de-escalate the border tension which occurred in 2020.

Sources: the Hindu.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

Permanent UN Security Council members China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. have pledged to prevent atomic weapons spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict.

 

Current Affairs

 

Latest issues:

  • Tensions between Russia and the United States have reached heights rarely seen since the Cold War over a troop build-up by Moscow close to the Ukrainian border.
  • That has raised fears that the Kremlin is planning a new attack on its pro-Western neighbour.
  • The rise of China meanwhile has also raised concerns that tensions with Washington could lead to conflict, notably over the island of Taiwan.
  • Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

 

What is NPT?

The NPT is a multilateral treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements: (1) non-proliferation, (2) disarmament, and (3) peaceful use of nuclear energy. These elements constitute a “grand bargain” between the five nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states.

  • The treaty was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970.

 

Implications:

  • States without nuclear weapons will not acquire them.
  • States with nuclear weapons will pursue disarmament.
  • All states can access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under safeguards.

 

Key provisions:

  • The Treaty defines nuclear weapon states (NWS) as those that had manufactured and detonated a nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967. All the other states are therefore considered non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).
  • The five nuclear weapon states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

 

Role of states:

  • Nuclear weapon states are not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons and not to assist, encourage, or induce any NNWS to manufacture or otherwise acquire them.
  • Non-nuclear weapons states are not to receive nuclear weapons from any transferor, and are not to manufacture or acquire them.
  • NNWS must accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear materials on their territories or under their control.

 

Current Affairs

 

Issues Pertaining to NPT:

Failure of Disarmament Process: The NPT is largely seen as a Cold War era instrument that has failed to fulfil the objective of creating a pathway towards a credible disarmament process.

System of Nuclear ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’: NNWS criticizes the treaty to be discriminatory as it focuses on preventing only horizontal proliferation while there is no limit for vertical proliferation.

NWWS also feels that the restrictions on Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) technology are one-sided.

 

India’s Stand on NPT:

  • India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.
  • India always considered the NPT as discriminatory and had refused to sign it.
  • India has opposed the international treaties aimed at non-proliferation since they were selectively applicable to the non-nuclear powers and legitimised the monopoly of the five nuclear weapons powers.

 

Insta Curious:

The establishment of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) is a regional approach to strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidate international efforts towards peace and security. Do you know about the Nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ)? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NPT.
  2. Nuclear Weapons States.
  3. Non- Nuclear weapons states.
  4. NWFZ.
  5. IAEA.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of NPT.

Sources: the Hindu.

Russia vs NATO in Ukraine:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

Russia has stationed more than 1,00,000 troops at its border with aspiring NATO member Ukraine.

 

What’s the issue? What are the demands by Russia?

  • Russia stated that only if NATO withdraws their forces from all countries in Europe that joined the alliance after May 1997, would they de-escalate the military build-up.
  • This would effectively mean that NATO cannot operate in any of the Baltic nations that border Russia (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania), central European states such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech republic, and Balkan states such as Croatia and Slovenia.
  • Russia also wants NATO to drop plans of any further ‘enlargement’, which means committing to not accepting Ukraine and Georgia as members. Another demand is that NATO must not hold drills in eastern Europe, Ukraine and Georgia without prior approval from Russia.

 

Response from the west:

  1. The U.S and NATO officials have bluntly stated that Russia’s proposals are unrealistic. They insist that Ukraine and every other country has the right to determine its own foreign policy.
  2. Citing the principle of sovereignty, they insist that Ukraine, and every other country in eastern Europe, has the right to determine its foreign policy without outside interference and join whichever alliance it wants.
  3. They have also dismissed the idea of Russia wielding veto power over who gets to become a member of NATO, and pointed out that NATO would not take decisions affecting eastern Europe without involving the countries concerned.

 

To know more about the Ukraine Issue, read this.

 

About North Atlantic Treaty Organization:

  • It is an intergovernmental military alliance.
  • Established by Washington treaty.
  • Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
  • Headquarters — Brussels, Belgium.
  • Headquarters of Allied Command Operations — Mons, Belgium.

 

Composition:

  • Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020.
  • NATO membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”

 

Insta Curious:

Germany has warned Russia that the Nord Stream pipeline would be stopped if they were to invade Ukraine. Where is the Nord Stream pipeline? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NATO- genesis and headquarters.
  2. What is NATO Allied Command Operations?
  3. Who can become members of NATO?
  4. Overview of the Washington Treaty.
  5. Countries surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean.
  6. Latest NATO member.

Mains Link:

Discuss the objectives and significance of NATO.

Sources: the Hindu.

Why is the world short of computer chips, and why does it matters?

GS Paper 3:

Topic Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Context:

There are no signs of the global chip shortage easing any time soon, and one of the reasons behind it appears to be getting worse, not better.

  • Industry experts say that a shortage of qualified staff is a growing problem, especially the highly qualified engineers needed to design new chips and solve manufacturing problems for ever more complex ones.

 

Why are there shortages?

The stay-at-home shift: This pushed chip demand beyond levels projected before the pandemic. Lockdowns spurred growth in sales of laptops to the highest in a decade.

Fluctuating forecasts: Automakers that cut back drastically early in the pandemic underestimated how quickly car sales would rebound. They rushed to re-up orders late in 2020, only to get turned away because chipmakers were stretched supplying computing and smartphone giants like Apple Inc.

Stockpiling: PC makers began warning about tight supplies early in 2020. Then around the middle of that year, Huawei Technologies Co. began building up inventory to ensure it could survive U.S. sanctions that were set to cut it off from its primary suppliers. Other companies followed suit, hoping to grab share from Huawei.

Disasters: A bitter cold snap in Texas in February led to power outages that shut semiconductor plants clustered around Austin. A plant in Japan was damaged by fire in March, disrupting production for months.

 

Impact and concerns posed by the shortage:

  1. Countless industries have been affected as global demand for semiconductor chips continues to outstrip supply.
  2. Chip shortages are expected to wipe out USD 210 billion of sales for carmakers this year, with production of 7.7 million vehicles lost.
  3. The semiconductor shortage will severely disrupt the supply chain and will constrain the production of many electronic equipment types.
  4. The chip shortage directly impacts consumers as prices of everyday appliances and electronic goods — from TV to smartphones — have increased due to the global supply chain disruption.

 

Efforts by India to achieve self-sufficiency in the manufacturing of semiconductors:

  • India is finalising plans to manufacture semiconductor chips in a big way, as a part of its ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • The nation is offering more than USD 1 billion in cash to each semiconductor company that sets up manufacturing units in the country.
  • Chips made locally will be designated as “trusted sources” and can be used in products ranging from CCTV cameras to 5G equipment.
  • In December 2021, India invited an “expression of interest” from chipmakers for setting up fabrication units in the country or for the acquisition of such manufacturing units.

 

What are Semiconductor Chips?

Semiconductors — also known as integrated circuits (ICs), or microchips — are most often made of silicon or germanium, or a compound like gallium arsenide.

  • It’s the thing that makes electronic items smart and faster.
  • Made from a material, usually silicon, that “semi-conducts” electricity, the chip performs a variety of functions.
  • Memory chips, which store data, are relatively simple and are traded like commodities.
  • Logic chips, which run programs and act as the brains of a device, are more complex and expensive.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is India Semiconductor Mission?
  2. India’s Status in Semiconductor Design and manufacturing?
  3. Key proposals under the National Policy on Electronics.
  4. Production linked incentive scheme- when was it announced?
  5. Who will implement it?

Mains Link:

Growing importance of Semiconductors or chips/integrated circuits (ICs) and China’s experience with the manufacturing and design of the same provides a strong case for focusing on chip designs in India. Comment.

Sources: Indian Express.

Where does the 5G rollout stand?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Science and Technology (IT & Computers).

 

Context:

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jamnagar, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Gandhi Nagar would be among the first cities to get 5G services in 2022.

 

Where does India stand in terms of trials and launch?

  • The government has said the auction of 5G spectrum would take place in March or April 2022. Some experts say it could be delayed by at least one quarter as telecom service providers are yet to complete their trials and test various aspects.
  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is in the final stages of stakeholder consultations, and is likely to submit its recommendations to the DoT early 2022.
  • Meanwhile, Private Telecom companies have progressed at various levels regarding the rollout of 5G – like conducting trials, testing speeds and building indigenous 5G networks.

 

What is 5G?

  • 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.

 

Features and benefits of the 5G technology:

  1. Operate in the millimeter wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which have the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.
  2. Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum.
  3. Reduced latency will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
  4. Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.

 

Current Affairs

 

Significance of the technology:

India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities.

 

What are the potential health risks from 5G?

To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.

  • Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.
  • As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye).

Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.

 

What are the international exposure guidelines?

Two international bodies produce exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. Many countries currently adhere to the guidelines recommended by:

  1. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.
  2. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, through the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety.

These guidelines are not technology-specific. They cover radiofrequencies up to 300 GHz, including the frequencies under discussion for 5G.

 

International efforts- International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project:

WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996. The project investigates the health impact of exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz and advises national authorities on EMF radiation protection.

 

Insta Curious:

Is India prepared for roll-out of 5G? Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is 5G?
  2. Differences between 3G, 4G and 5G.
  3. Applications.
  4. What is a spectrum?
  5. About EMF Project.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of 5G technology.

Sources: Indian Express.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Institute of Mathematical Sciences is 60:

  • The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai came into the 60th year of its existence on January 3 this year.
  • On January 3, 1962, Matscience was founded in Chennai by Alladi Krishnaswamy.
  • Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar gave the inaugural lecture that sparked off its journey.
  • In 1984, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) took charge of the institute.

 

Current affairs

 

RBI approves small, offline e-payments:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with the framework for facilitating small-value digital payments in offline mode, a move that would promote digital payments in semi-urban and rural areas.

 

What are Offline E-payments?

  • Offline digital payment does not require Internet or telecom connectivity.
  • Such payments can be carried out face-to-face (proximity mode) using any channel or instrument like cards, wallets and mobile devices.
  • Such transactions would not require an Additional Factor of Authentication.
  • Since the transactions are offline, alerts (by way of SMS and/or e-mail) will be received by the customer after a time lag.
  • There is a limit of ₹200 per transaction and an overall limit of ₹2,000 until the balance in the account is replenished.

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