10th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: It is an important Jain festival held every 12 years at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka. The ceremony being held in 2018 is said to be the 88th in the series that commenced in the year 981 A.D. and second Mahamastakabhisheka of the 21st Century.
Some more information:
Bhagwan Bahubali is worshiped for living with exceptional qualities that he displayed during all stages of his life from conception, birth, renunciation, enlightenment and salvation. The Bahubali statue is described as one of the mightiest achievements of ancient Karnataka in the realm of sculptural art. The statue stands upright in the posture of meditation known as ‘Kayotsarga’, reaching a height of nearly 57 feet atop the Vindhyagiri Hills. The statue was erected by ‘Chamundaraya’, a Ganga minister
Contributions of Jainism to Indian culture
- Though the teachings of Jainism were greatly influenced by the Vedic philosophy, it developed a distinct philosophy of its own also. For example “syatvad” was a new and original philosophy propounded by Jainism. This philosophy is new in the sense that it aims at the welfare of both individual as well as the community.
- The teachings of Jainism not only insisted on Ahimsa but also laid stress on the greater service to the cause of humanity. The followers of Jainism opened a number of inns, hospitals, schools and other institutions for public utility and thereby gave encouragement to the spirit of public utility works.
- Jainism has also rendered valuable contribution to the growth of vernacular literature. While the Buddhist and the Brahmans preached in Pali and Sanskrit, the Jains preached in the language of the people. Most of the Jain literature was written in Prakriti. Large literature was produced in the vernacular language also. For example Mahavira preached in a mixed dialect called Ardha Magadhi so that people of the area could understand his teachings.
- The Jains also influenced the Kanarese literature in the South. It may be noted here that certain Jain works were also produced in Sanskrit language. The literature produced in Sanskrit includes not only philosophical works but also subjects like Grammar, prosody, lexicography and mathematics.
- Besides religion and philosophy Jainism rendered great contribution to the development of art and architecture: The Jain followers erected stupas like Buddhists in honour of their saints. These stupas were built of stones and were decorated with Bate-ways, stone-umbrellas, carved-pillars and huge statues. The followers of Jainism also built many famous caves such as Tiger cave of Udaigiri and Indira Sabha of Ellora. These caves are excellent examples of architecture and sculpture of the period. The Jains also constructed cave-temples out of rocks. One of the best cave- temples of the second century B.C. exist in Orissa and is popularly known as Hathingumpha caves.
‘Mining issue in Goa’
(GS2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: The Supreme Court of India quashed the mining leases in Goa as it observed that an absence of clearly laid down and strictly enforced conditions
Impact of this judgment
- Cancellation of leases that had been accorded to mining companies
- Loss of jobs
- Loss of money to exchequer
(GS3: Indian economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment)
Issue: Failure to meet Fiscal deficit targets as mandated by ‘Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act’ (FRBMA), 2003 is a cause of concern. The fiscal deficit rule has been honored more in breach than in observance. The article calls for a better disciplined approach
What is Fiscal Deficit?
A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. A fiscal deficit is regarded by some as a positive economic event. For example, economist John Maynard Keynes believed that deficits help countries climb out of economic recession. On the other hand, fiscal conservatives feel that governments should avoid deficits in favor of a balanced budget policy. Budget 2018-19 has proposed amending FRBM act to achieve the target of 3% Fiscal deficit from 2018 to march 2021
Reasons for not preferring high rates of Fiscal deficit
- When the government’s Fiscal Deficit is large, it implies that government has to borrow heavily. This means that the demand for loans will rise in the market, causing interest rates to go up. As interest rate rise, the cost of borrowing for private firms goes up.
- Borrowing from foreign sources can be costly due to high interest rates. It will also lead to appreciation of Indian rupee, this leads to our exports becoming expensive in the world market
- Appreciation of Indian rupee will make servicing imports costlier
Laying before both Houses of Parliament, along with the annual Budget in each financial year the following statements of fiscal policy:
(a) Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement;
(b) Fiscal Policy Strategy statement and;
(c) Macro-economic Framework Statement.
- The Medium-term Fiscal– Policy Statement shall set-forth a three-year rolling target for prescribed fiscal indicators with specification of underlying assumptions.
Besides, the Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement shall include an assessment of sustainability relating to:
(i) The balance between revenue receipts and revenue expenditures; and
(ii) The use of capital receipts including market borrowings for generating productive assets.
- The Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement shall, inter alia, contain:
(a) the policies of the Central Government for the ensuing financial year relating to taxation, expenditure, market borrowings and other liabilities, lending and investments, pricing of administered goods and services, securities and description of other activities, such as, underwriting and guarantees which have potential budgetary implications;
(b) The strategic priorities of the Central Government for the ensuing financial year in the fiscal area;
(c) The key fiscal measures and rationale for any major deviation in fiscal measures pertaining to taxation, subsidy, expenditure, administered pricing and borrowings;
(d) An evaluation as to how the current policies of the Central Government are in conformity with the fiscal management principles set out in Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement and the objectives set out in the Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement.
- The Central Government shall take appropriate measures to eliminate the revenue deficit, bring down the fiscal deficit and build up adequate revenue surplus and in particular shall:
- Prohibition of direct borrowings by the Central Government from the Reserve Bank of India after three years except by way of advances to meet temporary cash needs in certain circumstances.
- Central Government to take suitable measures to ensure greater transparency in fiscal operations and to minimization of, as far as practicable, secrecy in the preparation of the annual budget.
- Quarterly review of the trends in receipts and expenditures in relation to the budget by the Finance Minister and placing the outcome of such reviews before both Houses of Parliament.
- The Central Government to cut expenditure authorizations in a proportionate manner, while protecting the “charged” expenditure, whenever there is a shortfall of revenue or excess of expenditure over specified targets.
- Finance Minister to make a statement in both Houses of Parliament explaining any deviation in meeting the obligations cast on the Central Government under this Act and the remedial measures the Central Government proposes to take.
- Relaxation from deficit reduction targets to deal with unforeseen demands on the finances of the Central Government on account of national security or natural calamities of national dimension.
(GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Prime minister of India to visit Ramallah, capital of Palestine. India has embarked upon a foreign policy which de-hyphenates its relation between Israel and Palestine. The visit to Palestine comes weeks after Prime Minister of Israel visited India to mark the anniversary of 25 years since diplomatic relationships were established with India. Prime Minister of India was also awarded Palestine’s highest civilian award ‘Grand Collar’
India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its attitude to the Palestinian question was given voice during our freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi. Since then, empathy with the Palestinian cause and friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of India’s foreign policy. India was the first Non-Arab State to recognize PLO as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988. In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza, which later was shifted to Ramallah in 2003.India has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in multilateral fora. India co-sponsored the draft resolution on “the right of Palestinians to self-determination” during the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly and voted in favor of it. India also voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution in October 2003 against construction of the separation wall by Israel and supported subsequent resolutions of the UNGA in this regard. India voted in favour of accepting Palestine as a full member of UNESCO. At the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, 2012 the status of Palestine was upgraded to a ‘non-member state’. India co-sponsored this resolution and voted in favor of it. India supported the Bandung Declaration on Palestine at Asian African Commemorative Conference in April 2015. India supported installation of Palestinian flag at UN premises along with other observer states, like the flags of member states, in September 2015.
- A library at Gaza city and another student activity centre
- Schools were built in Palestine with Indian assistance
- A centre of excellence in ICT field
- Projects worth $18 million dollars have been signed, major among them being for establishing a techno park
- India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Fund has also funded five projects in Palestine
- India provided a budgetary assistance to a tune of US$ 30 million to Palestine in different stages.
Existence of cultural similarities and having a small Indian community in Palestine has made Indian arts and culture very popular in Palestine.
‘Indra Nooyi became the first independent women director appointed for International Cricket Council (ICC) board
‘National de-worming day initiative’ (Facts for Prelims)
Issue: The National Deworming Day is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years and is held on 10 February and 10 August each year. Anganwadi and school-based mass deworming program is safe, cost-effective, and can reach crores of children quickly. Deworming has been shown to reduce absenteeism in schools; improve health, nutritional, and learning outcomes; and increase the likelihood of higher-wage jobs later in life. Deworming with the safe and beneficial Albendazole tablet is an evidence-based, globally-accepted, and effective solution to controlling worm infections. National Deworming Day has, thus, been designed to reach all children, regardless of socio-economic background. In addition to including government and government-aided schools and anganwadis, all states will make special efforts to reach out-of-school children, who are most vulnerable to worm infections. Private schools across the country, since they have high enrolment of children, have also enthusiastically joined the program, so that children in these schools, too, get deworming treatment and contribute to overall reduction in worm prevalence in communities.
(GS2: Regulatory body)
Issue: Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has announced that it would come up with regulations to monitor crypto currency market in India. This comes in the backdrop of increase volatility in the crypto currency market.
What is Crypto currency?
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its most endearing allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
The first cryptocurrency to capture the public imagination was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. As of September 2015, there were over 14.6 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of $3.4 billion.
Cryptocurrencies make it easier to transfer funds between two parties in a transaction; these transfers are facilitated through the use of public and private keys for security purposes. These fund transfers are done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by most banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
Central to the genius of Bitcoin is the block chain it uses to store an online ledger of all the transactions that have ever been conducted using bitcoins, providing a data structure for this ledger that is exposed to a limited threat from hackers and can be copied across all computers running Bitcoin software.
However, because cryptocurrencies are virtual and do not have a central repository, a digital cryptocurrency balance can be wiped out by a computer crash if a backup copy of the holdings does not exist. Since prices are based on supply and demand, the rate at which a cryptocurrency can be exchanged for another currency can fluctuate widely.
Cryptocurrencies are not immune to the threat of hacking. In Bitcoin’s short history, the company has been subject to over 40 thefts, including a few that exceeded $1 million in value. Still, many observers look at cryptocurrencies as hope that a currency can exist that preserves value, facilitates exchange, is more transportable than hard metals, and is outside the influence of central banks and governments.
Most governments across the globe have not banned the use of crypto currency based transactions. India too has made it explicit that it does not recognize crypto currency as a legal tender in India. This has not hampered the popularity of Indian investors investing in Bitcoins. Primarily, the reason for such popularity is the high rate of return for investors. Many bogus crypto currency based organizations have cropped across the globes who are riding the popularity of crypto currency to dupe investors.