India’s weak fiscal position to remain a key credit challenge’.

#GS-3 #Economic Development #Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. 

Fiscal Deficit 

  • The government describes fiscal deficit of India as “the excess of total disbursements from the Consolidated Fund of India, excluding repayment of the debt, over total receipts into the Fund (excluding the debt receipts) during a financial year”.
  • In simple words, it is a shortfall in a government's income compared with its spending.
  • The government that has a fiscal deficit is spending beyond its means.
  • It is calculated as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or simply as total money spent in excess of income.
  • In either case, the income figure includes only taxes and other revenues and excludes money borrowed to make up the shortfall.
  • It is different from revenue deficit which is only related to revenue expenditure and revenue receipts of the government.

Formula

  • Fiscal Deficit = Total expenditure of the government (capital and revenue expenditure) – Total income of the government (Revenue receipts + recovery of loans + other receipts). 
  • Expenditure component: The government in its Budget allocates funds for several works, including payments of salaries, pensions, etc. (revenue expenditure) and creation of assets such as infrastructure, development, etc. (capital expenditure).
  • Income component: The income component is made of two variables, revenue generated from taxes levied by the Centre and the income generated from non-tax variables.
  • The taxable income consists of the amount generated from corporation tax, income tax, Customs duties, excise duties, GST, among others.
  • Meanwhile, the non-taxable income comes from external grants, interest receipts, dividends and profits, receipts from Union Territories, among others. Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003
  • The government meets the fiscal deficit by borrowing money. In a way, the total borrowing requirements of the government in a financial year is equal to the fiscal deficit in that year.
  • A high fiscal deficit can also be good for the economy if the money spent goes into the creation of productive assets like highways, roads, ports and airports that boost economic growth and result in job creation.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 provides that the Centre should take appropriate measures to limit the fiscal deficit upto 3% of the GDP by 31st March, 2021.
  • The NK Singh committee (set up in 2016) recommended that the government should target a fiscal deficit of 3% of the GDP in years up to March 31, 2020 cut to 2.8% in 2020-21 and to 2.5% by 2023.

 

 

Kaliveli Wetland-Key Facts 

#GS- 3 # Bio diversity, Environment 

#Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

Kaliveli Lake with wetlands is located in the Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu. Kaliveli has been in news because of the efforts of the state government to Kaliveli wetlands as a bird sanctuary.

Key Points:

  • The Villupuram district administration has released the first declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 with an aim to declare Kaliveli wetlands a bird sanctuary.
  • Kaliveli is the second-largest brackish water lake in South India after Pulicat Lake.
  • This declaration has been issued under Section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by the District Administration.
  • The proposal has been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF). After clearance, the department will issue the final notification.
  • This decision will enhance the conservation activities in the wetland.
  • As per a 2004 assessment of BirdLife International and the Indian Bird Conservation Network, Kaliveli Lake supports more than 20,000 birds each year.
  • The wetland is a feeding ground for long-distance migrant birds from the cold subarctic regions of Siberia and Central Asia.

Migratory birds coming to the lake are Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, White Stork, and Dublin.

Challenges:

Proper steps should be taken to eliminate the negative impacts of the creation of a check dam downstream. Other than this, proper steps are needed for maintaining the natural biosphere and biodiversity of the area intact.

 

 

Corporate affairs ministry amends definition of small companies.

#GS-3 #Economic Development

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

The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has revised the definition of a small company by amending the Companies Rules. This was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget 2021-22.

Vital Postulates In The Amendments:

  • This amendment in the Companies Act has revised the definition of small companies.
  • This amendment will come into effect from April 1, 2021.
  • As per the official notification, the turnover and paid-up capital of a small company should not exceed Rs 20 crores and 2 crores respectively.
  • As per the previous definition of the small company defined by the Companies Act, such a company should have a turnover of Rs 2 crore and a maximum paid-up capital of Rs 50 lakh. This was applicable till the previous financial year.
  • This change in the definition will lighten the compliance burden of around 200,000 companies.

One Person Companies:

  • The amendment in the Companies act also allows non-resident Indians to incorporate one-person companies (OPCs) in the country.
  • Also, the residency limit of a person to qualify as a resident of India has been reduced.
  • A person will qualify as a resident of the country if he stays for 120 days now. The previous residency limit was 182 days.
  • Also, OPCs should be allowed to convert to any type of company at any time.
  • This amendment will be beneficial for startups. This will also attract more investments from NRIs
  • This amendment will be beneficial for startups. This will also attract more investments from NRIS

 

 

Chennai : India’s First Centre For Wetland Conservation And management (CWCM)

#GS- 3 # Bio diversity, Environment 

#Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

The Central government has recently announced to set up a new Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM) in Chennai. This centre will come up to address knowledge gaps and specific research needs in the conservation and management of wetlands.

Key Points

  • The centre will set up a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • The centre would be a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, an institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • CWCM will also play a major role in designing and implementing regulatory frameworks and policies, monitoring, management planning, and targeted research for the conservation of wetlands.
  • It will also act as a knowledge hub and enable exchange between wetland authorities in States/Union Territories, wetland researchers, managers, practitioners, policy-makers, and users.
  • The centre will help in building networks and partnerships with relevant international and national agencies.

Wetlands in India

India has a total of 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar sites. Wetlands cover around 4.6% of Indian landmass or nearly 15.26 million hectares of area. February 2 is observed as World Wetlands Day. This year, the day marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands at Ramsar in Iran in 1971.

 

 

Birth Centenary Celebrations Of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Begins.

#GS-1 #Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues. 

The year-long Birth Centenary celebrations of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi began on February 4, 2021. A two-day event has been organized in Mumbai to commemorate the timeless legacy of the great musical maestro by Rithwik Foundation for Performing Arts.

Key Points:

  • The Indian government is organizing different events to pay tributes to the legendary musician.
  • In order to mark the commencement of the year-long celebrations of the birth centenary of Pandit Bhimseen Joshi, Films Division is screening his biopic on its website and YouTube channel.
  • The documentary is titled “Pt Bhimsen Joshi” and shows the musical journey of the musician.
  • The documentary is 73 minutes long and has been directed by lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar.

The documentary is available at 

https://www.youtube.com/user/FilmsDivision 

or

https://filmsdivision.org/Documentary of the Week.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

He was a vocalist from Karnataka born on February 4, 1922. He belonged to the Kirana Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music. He enriched the Indian classical music with his bhajans, soulful khayal renderings, and abhangs. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in the year 1998. In 2009, he received India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna. He was awarded all the three Padma Awards- Padma Shri in 1972; Padma Bhushan in 1985; and Padma Vibhushan in 1999.

 

 

Collection of DNA samples.

#GS-3 #GS-2 # Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 

Context:

  • Allowing investigating agencies to collect DNA samples from “suspects”, as laid down in the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, will give them “unbridled power that is easily capable of misuse and abuse” and amount to a “threat to the life, liberty, dignity and privacy of a person”, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur has observed in a written submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology.
  • The panel tabled its report in Parliament.

Current status 

  • DNA testing is currently being done on an extremely limited scale in India, with approximately 30-40 DNA experts in 15-18 laboratories undertaking fewer than 3,000 cases a year.
  • The standards of the laboratories are not monitored or regulated.
  • The Bill aims to introduce the regulation of the entire process from collection to storage.
  • The preamble to the Bill says that it aims to provide for “the regulation of use and application of Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] technology for the purposes of establishing the identity of certain categories of persons, including the victims, offenders, suspects, undertrials, missing persons and unknown deceased persons”.

Concerns raised

  • Justice Lokur has questioned the need to collect DNA of a “suspect”.
  • He argued that in a blind crime or a crime involving a large number of persons (such as a riot), everybody is a suspect without any real basis.
  • This would mean that thousands of persons could be subjected to DNA profiling on a mere suspicion.
  • Such an unbridled power is easily capable of misuse and abuse by targeting innocents, against whom there is not a shred of evidence.
  • Such an unbridled police power ought not to be conferred on anybody or any agency as it would amount to a threat to the life, liberty, dignity and privacy of a person.
  • Many members of the committee, too, had expressed concern over including “suspects” in this list, flagging that it could lead to misuse and targeting certain categories of people.
  • In two dissent notes, AIMIM leader and CPI leader said the Bill would lead to the targeting of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis.

Committee’s stand: 

  • The committee has said while taking on board these concerns, it has gone with the majority view of retaining the preamble.
  • Its report, however, notes that these fears are not entirely unfounded and have to be addressed by the government and by Parliament as well.
  • At the same time, the committee observed that it does not negate the need for such legislation, especially when DNA technology was in use.
  • Its use in recent months has exposed a false encounter in which innocents were killed contradicting initial claims made that they were militants.
  • It pointed to the encounter at Shopian in Kashmir last September, where the Army had killed three men claiming to be unidentified terrorists.
  • The DNA sample from the three dead men matched with their families, confirming it to be a fake encounter.

DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 

  • The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.
  • Therefore, the new bill aims to expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.

Highlights of the Bill: 

  • As per the Bill, national and regional DNA data banks will be set up for maintaining a national database for identification of victims, suspects in cases, under trials, missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  • Punishment: According to it, those leaking the DNA profile information to people or entities who are not entitled to have it, will be punished with a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh. Similar, punishment has also been provided for those who seek the information on DNA profiles illegally.
  • Usage: As per the bill, all DNA data, including DNA profiles, DNA samples and records, will only be used for identification of the person and not for “any other purpose”

The bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters. 

  • The Bill establishes a DNA Regulatory Board to accredit the DNA laboratories that analyse DNA samples to establish the identity of an individual.

Arguments in opposition to the bill:

  • Many claim that the DNA profiling bill is a violation of human rights as it could compromise with the privacy of the individuals that is because all the details of the person’s body and his DNA profile will be with the state.
  • The Supreme Court has recognised the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right.
  • It will be used not only in the settlement of criminal cases but also in civil matters like using DNA profiling in matters such as surrogacy, maternity or paternity check, organ transplantation and immigration.
  • The International Human Rights Declaration and the 1964 Helsinki agreement are also being cited for the case against it.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly expresses concern about the rights of human beings against involuntary maltreatment.
  • The Declaration of Helsinki, 1964, set the guidelines adopted by the 18th World Medical Association General Assembly.
  • It contains 32 principles, which stress on informed consent, confidentiality of data, vulnerable population and requirement of a protocol, including the scientific reasons of the study, to be reviewed by an Ethics Committee.

Arguments in favour of the Bill:

  • Individual privacy is ensured as the custodian of the databank will not release any information without a formal requisition.
  • The one who is need of the DNA process i.e. investigator has to go through a requisition process via police.
  • Data will be accepted from the investigators which will be matched with the data available in the databank.
  • The DNA pattern will be kept in the DNA bank and that will be used whenever required for any purpose in national interest, police interest or forensic interest.
  • DNA profiles will be kept under a government regulatory body with certain terms and references. There are a least chances of any misuse

 

 

U.S. extends New START nuclear treaty with Russia

#GS-2 #POLITY AND GOVERNANCE #Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context

  • U.S. President’s administration extended the New START nuclear treaty with Russia by five years, saying it hoped to prevent an arms race despite rising tensions with Moscow.
  • One day before the treaty was set to expire, the United States was extending New START by the maximum allowed time of five years.

Committed to effective arms control.

  • U.S. President pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring U.S. leadership on arms control and nonproliferation.
  • The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.
  • Russian President signed off on legislation extending the accord, meaning that the treaty - signed by thenPresident Barack Obama in 2010 - will run until February 5, 2026.
  • The last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals, New START caps to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington.

Extending New START Treaty:

Recently, the Russian President has proposed extending by one year the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the USA and Russia expiring in February 2021.

The New START Treaty.

  • It is a treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. ● It entered into force on 5th February, 2011.
  • New START has replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired December 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which terminated when New START entered into force.
  • It is a successor to the START framework of 1991 (at the end of the Cold War) that limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • It continues the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing the USA and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals by limiting both sides to 700 strategic launchers and 1,550 operational warheads.

Current  Proposal

  • Russia has extended the proposal along with concerns of lack of interest from the United States.
  • In 2019, the United States has also suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF Treaty) with Russia.
  • It was a nuclear arms-control accord reached by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 in which the two nations agreed to eliminate their stocks of intermediate-range and shorter-range (or “medium-range”) landbased missiles (which could carry nuclear warheads).
  • The United States withdrew from the Treaty on 2nd August 2019.

USA’s Stance.

  • The USA wanted any replacement treaty should include China and to encompass all of Russia’s nuclear weapons - not just the “strategic” weapons covered under New START but also Russia’s sizable stockpile of smaller, “tactical” nuclear weapons that fall outside the treaty.
  • Russia rejected the demands, and China has refused to take part in negotiations.
  • The USA has agreed to negotiate the extension.

 

 

Hal’s New Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) DIVISION 

#GS- 3 #SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a new plant for Light Combat Aircraft at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru. This inauguration of a new plant will double the production of India’s indigenous fighter jet – LCA Tejas.

Important Elements:

  • HAL has got an order of Rs 48,000-cr order from the armed forces. This is the biggest indigenous defence procurement and will give a new boost to the Indian aerospace sector.
  • Tejas is better than its foreign equivalent on various parameters. The best advantage is that it is indigenous and cheaper as compared to its foreign variants.
  • The minister highlighted that India will be reaching its target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in defence manufacturing in few years.
  • This newly inaugurated LCA Tejas production plant of HAL is spread over an area of 35 acres.
  • This plant wills double the production of LCA Tejas to 16 aircraft per year to complete the Air Force order of 83 jets.
  • The project will include many public and private sector players and create an estimated 5,000 primary jobs in the private sector.
  • This production line of HAL will also generate employment for 500-600 people.

This is the first time that Indian private players are coming together to produce aircraft wings and fuselage. New technologies to be featured in the LCA Tejas are Mission Computer-Controlled Avionics and Digital Fly-By-Wire.

 

 

New demands for return to Iran nuclear deal

#GS-2 # international relations #Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

  • Us President sets new demands for return to Iran nuclear deal.
  • Iran would have to address its “malign” regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen in the talks that would have to include its Arab neighbours like Saudi Arabia.

Background

  • President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against the US’s arch enemy.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA: 

  • Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
  • The 2015 nuclear deal gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Under the deal: 

✓ Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany. 

✓ Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons. 

✓ The Joint Commission was established, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement

India's stance 

  • India has been a proactive votary of the international rules-based order.
  • It has been extremely supportive of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • India recognises Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • On the other hand, it also highlights the international community’s interest.
  • It has thus maintained that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully.

Implications for India 

Energy: Until 2010-11, Iran was India’s second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia.

✓ But it slipped in subsequent years as international sanctions hit Iran. 

✓ It is now India’s third-largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. 

✓ But following the 2015 deal, the supplies rose considerably. 

✓ A disruption to this trend may affect India's energy trade. 

✓ India and Iran have strategic interests in keeping the relationship sustainable. 

✓ But it should be insulated from the impact of sanctions. 

Chabahar port: Chabahar port is both a financial and a strategic investment for India. 

✓ The engagement between India and Iran on Chabahar has gathered momentum. 

West Asia - Trump’s move would mean US engaging with Iran's regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel.

 ✓ This could destabilise the region where over 8 million Indian migrants live and work.

 ✓ Military tensions in West Asia have forced India to evacuate its nationals in the past. 

✓ However, India's capacity to do so is limited.

NSG - India is aspiring to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

 ✓ Given this, it has to make a clearer articulation of commitment to JCPOA. 

✓ This will help with the Europeans, especially the French, who are backing India’s NSG membership bid.

 

 

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