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The Hindu News Analysis 7th – 8th – 9th January 2021

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National Center for Seismology (NCS), the nodal agency for monitoring earthquake activity in India works under?

a.  Ministry of Home Affairs
b.  Ministry of Earth Sciences
c.  Ministry of Science & Technology
d.  Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change

2)Shoolpaneshwar Wild Life Sanctuary is located in?

a.  Assam
b.  Odisha
c.  Gujarat
d.  Maharashtra

3)Vienna Accord of 2015 refers to which of the following?

a.  Convention on Road Traffic
b.  Convention on Consular Relations
c.  Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
d.  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Nuclear Program of Iran

4)Consider the following statements with respect to India Report on Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI)

  1. It is a full–scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India. 
  2. The study was undertaken by the National Programme for Health Care of Elderly, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

a.  1 only
b.  2 only
c.  Both 1 and 2
d.  Neither 1 nor 2

5)Consider the following statements

  1. Netaji Subhas Bose hoisted the Tricolour National Flag at Port Blair in 1943.
  2. The Constituent Assembly of India adopted the India’s National Flag in 1950.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

a.  1 only
b.  2 only
c.  Both 1 and 2
d.  Neither 1 nor 2

6)Consider the following statements with respect to Goldilocks Zone

  1. It refers to a habitable zone around a star, where it is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets.
  2. Earth is in the Sun’s Goldilocks zone.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

a.  1 only
b.  2 only
c.  Both 1 and 2
d.  Neither 1 nor 2

7) Consider the following statements with respect to Border Surveillance System (BOSS)

  1. It transmits real time video and data at a distance 50km to control station through satellite communication.
  2. It is designed and developed by NASA and DRDO.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct? • •

a.  1 only •b.  2 only •c.  Both 1 and 2 •d.  Neither 1 nor 2

•It is an all-weather electronic surveillance system successfully designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun.

•The system has been deployed at Ladakh border area for day and night surveillance.

•The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.

•The system is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machlipatnam.

•It is equipped with hybrid energy source for round the clock functionality.

•It consist of battle field surveillance radar & payload consists of day camera, GPS etc. mounted at an observation tower.

•It transmits real time video and data at a distance 20km to control station through wireless & fibre optic link.

8)Consider the following statements with respect to Golden Peacock Environment Management Award

1.World Environment Foundation (WEF) instituted this Annual Award in 1998, in furtherance of its aims and objectives.

2.Indian Railways has been awarded with the Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2020.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
•a.   1 only
•b.   2 only
•c.   Both 1 and 2
d.   Neither 1 nor 2

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has been awarded with the prestigious Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2020 in the Steel Sector by the Institute of Directors.

•SAIL has been the winner of this award for successive two years.

News:- World’s largest floating solar energy project in Omkareshwar Dam

News: The Government of India has announced the construction of the World’s largest floating solar energy project.

Floating Solar Energy Project: The world’s largest floating 600 MW solar energy project is to be constructed at Omkareshwar dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh.

Funding: The International Finance Corporation, World Bank and Power Grid have granted in-principle consent for providing aid for the project development

Floating solar: It refers to a solar power production installation mounted on a structure that floats on a body of water, typically an artificial basin or a lake.

Types: Two types of Floating Solar can be distinguished:

FPV or Floating photovoltaic, that uses photovoltaic panels mounted on the platform

Floating Concentrated solar power that uses mirrors that redirect the solar power to a tower.

Advantages: a) No land Occupancy b) Higher efficiency than ground mounted solar systems c) Helps in reducing water evaporation among others.

News:- Government launches Indian Railways Freight Business Development Portal:-

Facts:

Freight Business Development Portal: It is an exclusive portal to promote and develop the railways freight business.

Key Features:=

It ensures that all operations stay customer centric, reduce the costs for logistics providers, provide online tracking facilities for suppliers and also simplify the process of goods transportation.

It aims to replace physical processes with online ones to minimize the need of human to human interaction.

2)The TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) operating under Ministry of Tribal Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with Akhil Bhartiya vanvasi Kalyan Ashram to setup TRIFOOD parks in Madhya Pradesh.

The TRIFOOD is a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of food processing industry and TRIFED. It was launched under Van Dhan Yojana in August 2020. The TRIFOOD Parks are food processing centres. They will aim to promote value addition to the minor forest produce.

What are the main functions of TRIFOOD?

The TRIFOOD Parks will procure raw materials from Van Dhan Kendras. They will then be processed and sold across the country through the tribes India outlets.

3)The Food and Agriculture Organization recently released the Food Price Index.

4)The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recently released its Statement on Climate of India during 2020. According to IMD, 2020 was the eight warmest year on record since 1901.

Around twelve out of fifteen warmest years since 1901 were between 2006 and 2020.

The rainfall as a whole during South West Monsoon was above normal. It was 109% of the Long Period Average (calculated between 1961 and 2010).

The past decade, 2010-20 was the warmest decade on record.

5)Supreme Court tells govt. to arm forest officers to fight poachers :- The Supreme Court on Friday urged the government to arm forest officers and provide them with bulletproof vests and vehicles when told that India recorded the “greatest number of mortal fatalities” among forest officials in the world.

India accounted for 30% of fatalities among forest rangers in the world.

There should even be a separate wing or wildlife division in the Enforcement Directorate with clean officials to track and investigate crimes of the poachers and the proceeds of their crime…

CJI Bobde pointed out how forest rangers in Assam were armed and “no one dares come near them”. “But in States like Madhya Pradesh, they roam around with lathis. In Karnataka, forest guards are in chappals and [carry] just lathis.

6)Over half of Army personnel under severe stress, says study:- More than half of Indian Army personnel seem to be under severe stress and the Army has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in response to any enemy or terrorist activities, according to the findings of a study by United Service Institution of India (USI), a Service think tank.

7) Assam to gift khadi clothes to employees:- The Assam government has decided to gift khadi shirt, endi shawl and endi stole to Grade IV male and female employees in a phased manner from January, an official statement said on Friday.

endi:- Muga Silk.

8)Buddhism on Stamps :- M. Lokeshwar Rao

9)All about Gangetic Dolphin :- The Ganges river dolphin is found in parts of the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal and is popularly known as ‘Susu’.

It is among the four freshwater dolphins in the world- the other three are:

The ‘Baiji’ now likely extinct from the Yangtze River in China,

The ‘Bhulan’ of the Indus in Pakistan, and

The ‘Boto’ of the Amazon River in Latin America.

These four species live only in rivers and lakes.

Its presence indicates the health of the riverine ecosystem.

Threats:- Pollution: It faces a number of threats such as dumping of single-use plastics in water bodies, industrial pollution, fishing.

Restrictive Flow of Water: The increase in the number of barrages and dams is also affecting their growth as such structures impede the flow of water.

Poaching: Dolphins are also poached for their flesh, fat, and oil, which is used as a prey to catch fish, as an ointment and as a supposed aphrodisiac.

Shipping & Dredging: It is also called a blind dolphin because it doesn’t have an eye lens and uses echolocation to navigate and hunt.

Protection Status:-

IUCN Status: Endangered. It is listed on CITES Appendix-I.
It is classified under Schedule 1, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 providing absolute protection as offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.

Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district is India’s only sanctuary for its national aquatic animal.

10 ) Telangana HC gets first woman Chief Justice:- Justice Hima Kohli was sworn in as Chief Justice of the High Court for the State of Telangana. She is the first woman Chief Justice of Telangana High Court.

11) National Statistical Office(NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation(MoSPI) has released the First Advance Estimates (FAE) for 2020-21.

  • What are the First Advance Estimates(FAE)? For any financial year, the MoSPI provides regular estimates of GDP. The first such instance is through the FAE. The FAE for any particular financial year is typically presented on January 7th.
  • Significance: FAE significance lies in the fact that they are the GDP estimates that the Union Finance Ministry uses to decide the next financial year’s Budget allocations.
  • Based on: The FAE are based on the benchmark-indicator method. The sector-wise estimates are obtained by extrapolation of indicators like:
    • Index of Industrial Production(IIP) of first seven months of the financial year
    • Financial performance of listed companies in the private corporate sector available up to quarter ending September,2020
    • First Advance Estimates of crop production
    • Accounts of Central and state governments
    • Information on indicators like deposits and credits, passenger and freight earnings of Railways, passengers and cargo handled by civil aviation, cargo handled at major sea ports, sales of commercial vehicles available for the first eight months of the financial year.

Key Takeaways:

  • GDP: India’s real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is estimated to contract by 7.7% in 2020-21, compared to a growth rate of 4.2% in 2019-20.India will witness a negative GDP growth rate for the first time after 1979-80.
    • Reason: The reason for the contraction has been the disruption caused by Covid-induced lockdowns which saw the economy contract by almost 24% in the first quarter and by 15.7% during the first half of the year.
  • Gross Value Added(GVA): It provides a picture of the economy from the supply side. It maps the value-added by different sectors of the economy such as agriculture, industry and services. The real GVA will also shrink by 7.2%.
  • Positive Growth: Just two sectors are estimated to record positive growth in GVA this year with Agriculture continuing its strong run through the first half of year to the second half (3.4%) and Electricity, Gas, Water Supply & Other Utility services(2.7%).
    • However, the sharpest decline in the pandemic-dented year is expected to be in the Services Sector.
  • Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE): The biggest demand for goods and services comes from private individuals trying to satisfy their consumption needs. This demand is called PFCE and it constitutes over 56% of the total GDP. It is expected to be almost what it was in 2017-18.
  • Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF): The second biggest component of GDP is called GFCF and it measures all the expenditures on goods and services that businesses and firms make as they invest in their productive capacity. This type of demand accounts for close to 28% of India’s GDP. It has fallen below the 2016-17 level.
  • Government expenditure: It is expected to show a robust growth of 17% in the second half of the year, despite the challenges faced by the government on fiscal consolidation and the fact that government expenditure fell 3.9% in the first half of the year.

12) New freight corridor a big boost :- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday inaugurated the New Rewari New Madar section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and flagged off the world’s first 1.5 km long electrified double stack long haul container train.

This project was part of the mission to modernise the country’s infrastructure and was being seen as a game changer for the India of 21st century.

13)National Nutrition Mission
Launched in: 2018
It is Indian Government’s flagship programme.

Objective: To improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

It is backed by a National Nutrition Strategy prepared by the NITI Aayog with the goal of attaining “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat” or malnutrition-free India, by 2022.

Aims: (1) To reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively;

(2) To address the problem of malnutrition in a mission-mode.

50% of the total budget comes from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks and the rest of the 50% is through Centre’s budgetary support.

The Centre’s budgetary support is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories (UTs) without legislature.

News was: Key nutrition committees fail to meet

National Nutrition Council (NNC), headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman
Rajiv Kumar and including 12 Union Ministers and five Chief Ministers on a rotational basis;

the Executive Committee (EC) of the National Nutrition Mission headed by the Secretary of the Women and Child Development Ministry Ram Mohan Mishra; and the

National Technical Board on Nutrition (NTBN), headed by Member, NITI Aayog, V.K. Paul.

13) Raj Iyer Indian-American Raj Iyer has taken over as the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the U.S. Army after the Pentagon created the
position in July 2020.

14) SC to study anti-conversion laws of Uttarakhand and U.P.

15)‘Using God’s name to sell articles illegal’ :- The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has declared that advertisement of any article using the name of any God and claiming that it has supernatural qualities, is “illegal” and falls under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.

16)Lingayatism is a Shaivite Hindu religious tradition in India. Initially known as Veerashaivas, since the 12th century adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats. The terms Lingayatism and Veerashaivism have been used synonymously.

Lingayatism was founded, or revived, by the 12th-century philosopher and statesman Basava in Karnataka. ‘Lingayatism’ may refer to the whole Lingayat community, but also to a contemporary (sub)tradition dedicated to Basava’s original thought, and to a movement within this community which strives toward recognition as an independent religion.

16) Committee to look into Ladakh issues :- A committee would be constituted under Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy to find an appropriate solution to the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

A 10member delegation of Ladakh met Home Minister Amit Shah.

17) State of the Climate Report 2020

News: India Meteorological Department (IMD) has released the State of the Climate Report, 2020.The report looks at temperature and rainfall trends annually.

Key Takeaways from the Report:

  • Eighth Warmest Year: The year 2020 was the eighth warmest since India started keeping records in 1901.
  • Warmest Decade: 12 out of the 15 warmest years were reported between 2006 and 2020 and that the past decade (2011-2020) was the warmest on record.
  • Temperature: During the year, the annual average temperature in the country was 0.29 degree Celsius (°C) above normal (29-year average from 1981-2010).
    • However, it was much lower than 2016 (+0.71 degrees Celsius), which remains the warmest ever year the country has recorded since 1901.
  • Rainfall: The annual rainfall over the country in 2020 was 109% of the Long Period Average (LPA) calculated for the period of 1961-2010.
  • Cyclones: Five cyclones formed over the North Indian Ocean in 2020 including the super cyclonic Storm AMPHAN, Very Severe Cyclonic Storms NIVAR & GATI, Severe Cyclonic Storm NISARGA, and Cyclonic Storm ‘BUREVI’. Among these, NISARGA & GATI formed over Arabian Sea while the remaining three cyclones formed over the Bay of Bengal.
  • Loss due to Natural Disasters: Bihar & Uttar Pradesh were the most adversely affected States by natural disasters during the year which claimed more than 350 deaths from each State mainly due to thunderstorm, lightning and cold waves.

18)USTR slams India’s Equalisation levy  

News: US Trade Representative (USTR) has released the findings of the Section 301 report.  

The report has said that India’s 2% equalisation levy is unreasonable or discriminatory potentially attracting withdrawal of US trade concessions or duties on Indian exports. 

  What is Equalisation Levy? 

  • When was 2% Equalisation Levy introduced? In the Finance Bill 2020-21 a 2% digital service tax (DST) was imposed on non-resident e-commerce operator in India. 
  • Eligibility: Companies with a turnover of over Rs. 2 crore, will pay this levy on the consideration received for online sales of goods and services.   
  • Purpose: The purpose of the levy is to ensure fair competition, reasonableness and exercise the ability of governments to tax businesses that have a close nexus with the Indian market through their digital operations

Why USTR is concerned? 

  • USTR is mainly concerned as 72% companies that will face the levy are American.  
  • Aggregate tax bill for US companies will exceed US $ 30 Million.  

What does the Special 301 Report say on Equalization levy?  

The USTR report has said that the Equalisation Levy is a violation of international tax principles: 

  1. Firstly, it is discriminatory as the law explicitly exempts Indian companies while targeting non-Indian firms. 
  2. Secondly, levy is contravening the international tax principle that companies absent a territorial connection to a country should not be subject to that country’s corporate tax regime. 
  3. The third issue is of taxing revenue instead of income. This is inconsistent with the international tax principle that income—not revenue—is the appropriate basis for corporate taxation. 
  4. Fourth, levy is discriminating against US companies. As shown above, majority of the affected companies will be American.

What are the justifications by the Indian Government? 

  1. India has said that levy does not discriminate against US companies as it applies equally to all non-resident e-commerce operators irrespective of their country of residence. 
  2. The levy does not have extraterritorial application as it applies only on the income generated from India. 
  3. Government is in its rights to tax digital transactions as the levy is recognition of the principle that in a digital world, a seller can engage in business transactions without any physical presence. 
  4. In addition, Equalisation levy was one of the methods suggested by the 2015 OECD/G20 Report on Action 1 of BEPS Project which was aimed at tackling the taxation challenges arising out of digitization of the economy. 
  5. Equalisation levy is a way to tax foreign digital companies and seen as a temporary alternative to the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) tax until such measure is well defined in India. 
Additional Facts: Special 301 Report: It is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that identifies trade barriers to United States companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks in other countries. 

GAFA Tax: It is a proposed digital tax named after digital giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. GAFA tax is levied on large technology companies and Internet companies. Recently France has decided to introduce 3% of GAFA tax on revenues from digital activities within their territory. 

EDITORIAL OF THE DAY

Beyond the Central Vista verdict, key questions

The Supreme Court recently given permission for the Central Vista Project of the government for new parliament building.

Author Highlights the issues behind this :-

  1. The Issue of Public Discussion : Author says that there should be proper discussion not only at the Horizontal level ( Horizontal Discussion) but also Vertical Discussion(which is people centric and involves the public).
  2. The issue of Architectural Service Procurement :- Author says that while procuring the architectural services , the Government puts different restrictions like they demand steep turnover, this creates many problems like many small, mid and new entrepreneurs are left out of the tender process.

To overcome the problem , the author says that the Government should minimise these entry level conditions so that more and more architects can compete for that.

Also the Author says that the task of designing and the development and management must be disaggregated, i.e divided in order to bring more and more efficiency.

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