Daily Current Affairs: 2nd February 2020: The Hindu+PIB
The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.
As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.
Context: The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced a proposal to set up a National Technical Textiles Mission in her budget speech.
Implementation Period:4 years from 2020-21 to 2023-24. Estimated Outlay: Rs. 1480 crore. In terms of the projections of the last baseline survey on technical textiles which was submitted in 2015, the market size in India for the year 2017-18 is projected as Rs 1,16,217 crore. Although, there is no projection in the last baseline study with regard to the projections for the 2020-21, taking into account the current trend of growth and various initiatives of the Government, domestic market size of the technical textiles is expected to cross Rs 2 lakh crores by the year 2020-21. About Technical Textiles Technical textiles are those material and products which are manufactured primarily for their technical properties and functional requirements rather than for aesthetic characteristics. The scope of use of technical textiles encompasses a wide range of applications such as agro-textiles, medical textiles, geo-textiles, protection-textiles, industrial-textiles, sports-textiles and many other usages. Benefits of Use of Technical Textiles: They account for increased productivity in the following sectors:
- Horticulture and aquaculture fields;
- Better protection of military;
- Para-military, Police and security forces;
- Stronger and sturdier transportation infrastructure for highways, railways, ports and airports; and
- Improving hygiene and healthcare of general public.
In India, technical textiles hold immense growth opportunities both for the industry as well as across various applications.
Context: The government in its Budget 2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA).
Implementation Period: 5 years from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
Estimated Outlay: Rs. 8000 crore.
Implementing Agency: Department of Science & Technology (DST).
About Quantum Technologies
Quantum Technology is based primarily on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level. It concerns the control and manipulation of quantum systems, with the goal of achieving information processing beyond the limits of the classical world.
Quantum principles can be used for engineering solutions to extremely complex problems in computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanics. But, it is to be kept in mind that the Quantum field has not yet matured for commercialization, due to the extreme scientific challenges involved.
How does a quantum computer work and what is its significance?
Quantum computers store and process information using quantum two level systems (quantum bits or qubits) which unlike classical bits, can be prepared in superposition states. This key ability makes quantum computers extremely powerful compared to conventional computers when solving certain kinds of problems like finding prime factors of large numbers and searching large databases.
The prime factorization quantum algorithm has important implications for security as it can be used to break RSA encryption, a popular method for secure communication.
Key highlights of the Mission
Under this Mission, the next generation transformative technologies that will receive a push include quantum computers and computing, quantum communication, quantum key distribution, encryption, crypt analysis, quantum devices, quantum sensing, quantum materials, quantum clock and so on.
Major focus areas of the Mission: Mission will be focusing in fundamental science, translation, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation and start-ups to address issues concerning national priorities. Their applications which will receive boost include those in aero-space engineering, numerical weather prediction, simulations, securing the communications & financial transactions, cyber security, advanced manufacturing, health, agriculture, education and other important sectors with focus on creation of high skilled jobs, human resources development, start-ups & entrepreneurship leading to technology lead economic growth.
The Mission draws upon the existing deep strengths within academic institutes across India to support interdisciplinary research projects in key verticals involving quantum technology, while simultaneously developing key foundational strengths in important core areas e.g., QT research, operational implementations, Human resource availability and technology development are in their initial stage of evolution.
Benefits of Implementation: It would help develop and bring quantum computers, secured communications through fibre and free space, quantum encryption and crypt-analysis and associated technologies within reach in the country and help address India specific national and regional issues.
Further, the Mission will also help in preparing next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.
Context: 34th Surajkund International Crafts Mela was inaugurated by President of India in Surajkund, Haryana on 1st February, 2020.
A major emphasis has been laid down on the transformation of the philosophy of ‘Buy local for a better tomorrow’ into a movement.
The Mela is jointly hosted by the Surajkund Mela Authority in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, External Affairs, Department of Tourism, Government of Haryana and Haryana Tourism Corporation.
Key Highlights of the Surajkund Mela
Celebrated at: Surajkund, District Faridabad
Celebrated during: 1st Feb to 16th February
Main attractions: Rich showcase of regional and international crafts and traditions
Vision: The Mela was conceived primarily to promote the pool of skilled artisans, who used indigenous technology, but were suffering due to the cheaper machine-made imitations.
Partner Nation for the Year 2020: Uzbekistan
Partner Nations over the years: Following is a list of partner Nations over the years.
Egypt became the Focus Nation in the 23rd Surajkund Crafts Mela-2009. That’s how the idea was mooted to introduce a country/nation as a Focus Nation.
Thailand was introduced as the first Focus Nation during the 26th Surajkund Crafts Mela-2012.
A group of African Nations participated as Focus Nations in the 27th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2013.
Sri Lanka was participated as Focus Nation for 28th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2014.
Lebanon was participated as Focus Nation for the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2015.
China and Japan was the Focus Nation for 30th Surajkund International Crafts Mela -2016.
Kyrgyzstan was the partner Nation for 32nd Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2018.
Thailand was the the partner Nation for 33rd Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2019.
Theme State: Himachal Pradesh (a replica of ‘Bhima Kali Temple’ and the already existing ‘Maheshwar Devta Temple’, promises to be the main attraction of this year’s Mela).
KEY FEATURES OF THE MELA
- England will participate for the first time in the Surajkund International Crafts mela.
- The girl students of government and government-aided Schools will be given free entry to the Mela on weekdays, as a part of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign of Haryana government.
- Renovated ‘Apna Ghar’ of Haryana will entrall visitors in a new avatar.
- Exporters and Buyers Meet is organised during the Mela fortnight that offers a ready support system for craftspersons to access and tap the export market.
- A complete ban is imposed on the plastic/polythene bags within the Mela premises.
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Context: President of India to inaugurate New Global Headquarters of Ram Chanda Mission ‘Kanha Shanti Vanam’ inRangareddy district ofTelangana.
ABOUT RAM CHANDRA MISSION
Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM) offers the practice of “Sahaj Marg” or “Heartfulness Meditation”. The mission is basically a non-profit organization and a spiritual movement. It was registered in 1945 in India by Shri Ram Chandraji of Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.
SRCM was named after the Adi Guru Shri Ram Chandraji of Fatehgarh (aka ‘Lalaji’) and was founded by his successor Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, affectionately known as Babuji (1899 – 1983).
Its current world headquarters is located at Kanha Shanti Vanam, Kanha village, Ranga Reddy District near Hyderabad, Telangana.
The Shri Ram Chandra Mission is now present in over 120 countries on all continents
PURPOSE: The stated purpose of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission is to “awaken the divine consciousness and provide support on the path of human evolution”.
CURRENT PRESIDENT: Shri Kamlesh Patel (b. 1956) is the current president of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and spiritual Master of the Sahaj Marg system. This includes SRCM USA, which was registered in California in 1997 (SRCM California-1997) and SRCM India, which was registered in Lucknow, India in the year 1945 (SRCM-Shahjahanpur-1945).
Context: As per the Budget 2020-21, a National Logistics Policy will soon be launched that will clarify the roles of the Union Government, State Governments and key regulators.
Key Announcements regarding the National Logistics Policy
- Geo-taggingof all warehousing.
- Warehousing shall be promoted to comply with Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) norms.
- Viability Gap Funding (VGF) shall be provided for setting up of warehousing at the block / taluk levels on PPP mode. Food Corporation of India, Central Warehousing Corporation shall also offer their land for this purpose.
- Village Storage Scheme through Women Self-help groups shall provide backward linkages for seeds thereby reducing logistics costs. Financial assistance under MUDRA loans and NABARD shall be provided for this purpose.
- Cold chains for fish and perishables shall be promoted.
- Refrigerated vans shall be attached to passenger trains to promote quick movement of perishables.
- Krishi trains shall also be run on PPP mode.
- Krishi Udan scheme shall be promoted / launched whereby horticulture and perishable commodities shall be transported through the air-route that will especially benefit the North-East region and tribal area.
- Cluster approach shall be adopted for promoting horticulture. One Product One District shall be encouraged.
- National Organic e-Market will be developed for organic products.
- Financing of negotiable warehousing receipts would be encouraged and also its integration with e-NAM.
- Rs.100 lakh crore National Infrastructure pipeline has been launched which includes over 6500 infrastructure projects and has projects worth Rs.19.6 lakh crore for roads, Rs.13.69 lakh crore for railways, Rs.1.43 lakh crore for airports and Rs.1.01 lakh crore for ports.
- Accelerated development of highways will be undertaken. 2500 kms. of access controlled highways, 9000 kms. of economic corridors, 2000 kms. of coastal and land-port roads and 2000 kms. of strategic highways.
- Delhi – Mumbai and Chennai – Bengaluru express highways to be made operational by 2023.
- 12 lots of highway building consisting of over 6000 kms. shall be offered for monetisation by 2024.
- Governance structure for corporatisation of one major port shall be introduced.
- Inland Waterways especially Jal Vikas Marg (NW1) will be made operational.
- Inland Waterways from Dhubri to Sadia in Assam shall be promoted by 2022.
- Inland Waterways shall be promoted under the Programme called Arth-Ganga i.e., promoting economic activities along with banks of the river.
- 100 more airports shall be established under the UDAN scheme.
- 1200 airplanes shall be added from the present 600.
- Rs.1.7 lakh crore have been allocated for the transportation sector in 2020-21.
NEED OF NATIONAL LOGISTICS POLICY
Presently, India’s logistics sector is highly defragmented and the policy is essential to achieve the aim to reduce the logistics cost from the present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022.
Currently, India’s logistics sector is very complex with more than 20 government agencies, 40 PGAs, 37 export promotion councils, 500 certifications, 10000 commodities, 160 billion market size. It also involves 12 million employment base, 200 shipping agencies, 36 logistics services, 129 ICDs, 168 CFSs, 50 IT ecosystems and banks & insurance agencies. Further, 81 authorities and 500 certificates are required for EXIM.
Further, the Indian logistics sector provides livelihood to more than 22 million people and improving the sector will facilitate 10 % decrease in indirect logistics cost leading to the growth of 5 to 8% in exports. Also, it is estimated that the worth of Indian logistics market will be around USD 215 billion in next 2 years compared to about USD 160 billion at present.
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Context: The Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced the NIRVIK (Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana) scheme in theUnion Budget 2020-21 to provide high insurance cover forexportersand reduce premium for small exporters.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SCHEME
- NIRVIK (Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana) is being launched to provide forhigh insurance cover,reduction in premium for small exportersandsimplified procedures for claim, settlement.
- Scheme is being prepared by the Commerce and Industry Ministry.
- It is also called the Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) and the insurance guarantee could cover up to 90% of the principal and interest.
- There is also a provision to subsidise the premium under the Scheme that has to be paid by exporters of certain key sectors.
- The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) cover will also provide additional comfort to banks as the credit rating of the borrower is enhanced to AA rated account. This enhanced cover will ensure that Foreign and Rupee export credit interest rates will be below 4%and 8% respectively for exporters.
- Under ECIS, insurance cover percentage has also been enhanced to 90% from the present average of 60% for the both principal and interest.
- The Export Credit Corporation currently provides credit guarantee of up to 60% loss.
- The main aim behind introducing the scheme was to enhance accessibility and affordability of credit for exporters. The decision will help make Indian exports competitive and make ECGC procedures exporter friendly, benefiting MSME exporters with a new scheme for reimbursing taxes, reduced insurance cost and ease of doing business.
- The existing insurance covers issued by the ECGC will continue for the existing customer banks and similar covers will also be made available to all other banks. All standard accounts covered under ECGC on the date of transition shall be eligible for the insurance cover under the ECIS.
- The insurance cover will include not only the principal outstanding but also the unpaid interest for a maximum of two quarters or the NPA date, whichever is earlier.
- It will also cover both pre-shipment and post-shipment advances unlike the present system, where two different documents are issued by the ECGC.
- The scheme also aims to simplify the procedure for settlement of claims and provisional payment of up to 50% within 30 days on production of proof of end-use of the advances in default by the Insured Bank.
- The scheme will be in force for a period of 5-years. For accounts with limits below Rs 80 crore, the premium rates will be moderated to 0.60 per annum and for those exceeding Rs80 crore, the rates will be 0.72 per annum for the same enhanced cover.
- Further, the scheme will mandate inspection of bank documents and records by ECGC officials for losses exceeding Rs.10 crore as against the present Rs 1 crore.
- There will be no change in other aspects such as seeking approval of limits, monthly declarations with premium, report of default, Lodgment of Claim, extension in due date under Pre-Shipment/Post-Shipment, placing of borrower in Specific Approval List (SAL), Checking of Buyers Specific Approval List (BSAL) and Checking of Restricted Cover Category (RCC) and sharing of recovery and these will continue as per the existing terms and conditions of cover of ECGC.
BACKGROUND In September 2019, Commerce and Industry Minister, Piyush Goyal had announced that the gems, jewellery and diamond (GJD) sector borrowers with limit of more than Rs. 80 crore will have a higher premium rate under the NIRVIK Scheme as compared to non-GJD sector borrowers of this category due to the higher loss ratio. India’s exports contracted for a fifth month in a row by 1.8% in December 2019 to USD 27.36 billion and imports declined 8.9% to USD 357.39 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 118.10 billion. ABOUT EXPORT CREDIT GUARANTEE CORPORATION PRESENT CHAIRMAN: Geetha Muralidhar Established in 1957 to promote exports by providing credit insurance services, TheExport Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC)is a fully government-owned company which provides Export Credit Insurance to Banks (ECIB) in order to protect them from losses on account of export credit at the Pre and Post-Shipment stage given to exporters due to the risks of insolvency or protracted default of the exporter borrower. It is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra and is controlled by the Ministry of Commerce. It was transformed into Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation Limited (ECGC) in 1964 and to Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India in 1983.
Context: A prediction of rebound in GDP growth from the First Quarter of 2020-21 has been made by the Macro-economic Framework Statement (MFS) 2020-21.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS The Macro-economic Framework Statement (MFS) 2020-21 briefly describes the return path of fiscal consolidation without compromising the needs of investment out of public funds. As per MFS 2020-21, the government has revised the fiscal roadmap in the near term and limited the fiscal deficit to 3.8% of the GDP in RE 2019-20 and 3.5% in 2020-21. The framework statement further notes that the consumer price inflation has remained within the targeted limits set by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI and the government is expected to return to the glide path of fiscal consolidation in the medium term. As part of the Framework, Finance Minister has proposed a 21% increase in capital expenditure for the FY 2020-21. Level of expenditure has been kept at Rs. 30.42 lakh crores in BE 2020-21, as compared to Rs. 26.98 lakh crores in RE 2019-20. In order to bring an improvement in the physical quality of life, the Government has also announced the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) of projects worth Rs. 102 lakh crores, which would commence in phases from 2020-21 to 2024-25. The Framework states that the Global economic growth is expected to pick up in 2020 which could also support India’s growth. In view of a positive outlook on economic rebound, the MFS predicts the nominal growth of the economy at 10% in FY 2020-21. According to the MFS, positive prospects for the economy are continuation of structural reforms that will revive growth and expected normalization of credit flow as investment picks up induced by a cut in the corporate tax rate and anticipated transmission of repo rate cuts earlier implemented by the MPC.
Context: While presenting the Union Budget, Union Finance Minister has proposed wide-ranging facilitation measures in Direct Tax Regime.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ Scheme (No dispute but trust) has been proposed by the Union Budget which aims at reducing litigations in the direct taxes payments. Under the proposed scheme, a taxpayer would be required to pay only the amount of the disputed taxes and will get complete waiver of interest and penalty provided he pays by 31st March, 2020. Those who avail this scheme after 31st March, 2020 will have to pay some additional amount. The scheme will remain open till 30th June, 2020. Instant PAN through Aadhaar: The Finance Minister has also proposed to launch a system under which PAN shall be instantly allotted online on the basis of Aadhaar without any requirement for filling up of detailed application form. In the last Budget, the interchangeability of PAN and Aadhaar was introduced. Faceless appeals: A new faceless assessment scheme has already been introduced in order to impart greater efficiency to the assessment process. Now, the Finance Minister proposed to amend the Income Tax Act so as to enable Faceless appeal on the lines of Faceless assessment. The Taxpayer’s Charter: The Union Budget proposed to amend the provisions of the Income-tax Act to mandate the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to adopt a Taxpayers’ Charter in order to enhance the efficiency of the delivery system of the Income Tax Department. However, the details of the contents of the charter is yet to be notified. Charity institutions: The Union Budget proposed to pre-fill the donee’s information in taxpayer’s return on the basis of information of donations furnished by the donee in order to ease the process of claiming deduction for donation to charitable institution. This would result in hassle-free claim of deduction for donations made by the taxpayer. In order to simplify the compliance for the new and existing charity institutions, Finance Minister proposed to make the process of registration completely electronic under which a unique registration number (URN) shall be issued to all new and existing charity institutions.
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