28th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Lifestyle diseases’ (GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: A school-based screening of 1.04 lakh children in 138 private schools in Bengaluru has revealed some alarming trends among students aged between three and 16. The survey, conducted by a private provider of health services in schools, found about10% of the children to be obese and 13.8% at risk of contracting lifestyle diseases in adulthood with waistlines which are more than half their height
About Lifestyle diseases:
A disease associated with the way a person or group of people lives. Lifestyle diseases include atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke; obesity and type 2 diabetes; and diseases associated with smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. Regular physical activity helps prevent obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, and premature mortality.
Reason for the rise of lifestyle diseases among children
1. Of all the factors that cause lifestyle diseases in children, the biggest culprit is believed to be their food habits.
2. Changing sleeping patterns
3. Consumption of junk and processed food
4. Children are also susceptible to the overuse of mobile, TV etc. This has had an effect in limiting the physical activity which is critical for healthy development of mind and body of children
5. Depression is also on the rise among the children due to pressure to excel in studies at all cost
6. Nuclear family prevalence in the urban society too is also a factor in the rise of lifestyle diseases
‘United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267’ (GS2: Global Groupings)
Issue: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that monitors countries on action taken against terror-financing and money-laundering has decided to place Pakistan back on its watch list, from June. The decision is both appropriate and overdue, given Pakistan’s blatant violation of its obligations to crack down on groups banned by the Security Council 1267 sanctions committee that monitors groups affiliated to the Taliban (which originally included al-Qaeda affiliated groups), such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network
What are Security Council 1267 sanctions?
*UNSC resolutions 1267 is a resolution which was primarily brought in 1999 to designated Osama bin laden and associates as terrorists and established a sanctions regime to cover individuals and entities associated with Al Qaida and Taliban wherever located. Over the period of the time its scope is revived to cover terrorist organizations linked to both Al Qaida and Taliban
*If an individual or terrorist organisation is included in this list, it helps in restricting their movement, financial penalties and assets freeze among others. The sanction committee comprises of 15 members of the UNSC and makes it decision by consensus and secretly. If there is no consensus then a resolution is not adopted
*India has been trying hard to get Masood Azar, a terrorist who masterminded Pathonkot attack, to be subjected to 1267 sanctions. But, its effort have fallen short due to the support of China for Pakistan
Note: The working of FATF has been discussed extensively in our previous current affairs module. Kindly refer that for better clarity on FATF
‘QUAD’ Defense Industrial Corridor (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Defence Ministry has started the process to set up the country’s first defense industrial corridor linking Chennai with four other cities of Tamil Nadu to promote industries manufacturing weapons and military equipment.
About the project
The ‘Quad’ or quadrilateral corridor will connect Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli and the ministry is finalizing the broad contours of the project.
‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (GS3: Security Challenges)
Issue: On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila, the Quadrilateral arrangement involving Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. saw a revival as officials exchanged notes on regional and global security.
*The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries. The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, with the support of Vice President Dick Cheney of the US, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members.
*During the 2017 ASEAN Summits all four former members rejoined in negotiations to revive the quadrilateral alliance. With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and President Donald Trump of the United States agreeing in Manila to revive the security pact among tensions in the South China Sea caused primarily by China and its territorial ambitions.
Priorities of Quad
1. It was revealed recently that the four countries are working to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though the plan is still in its nascent stage, it is clear that the normative order China is trying to construct in the economic sphere will not go unchallenged.
2. India and Japan, for example, are working on an ambitious Asia-Africa Growth Corridor linking Southeast Asia to Africa.
3. An arrangement such as “Quad” will provide a suitable alternative to countries which might perceive Chinese initiatives to be opaque
‘India-Jordan Bilateral Relationship’ (GS2: Bilateral Relationship)
Issue: King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, who arrived here on Tuesday, was accorded a grand welcome with Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving him at the airport, in a special gesture.
History of India-Jordan Relations
*The Republic of India and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan signed their first bilateral agreement for cooperation and friendly relations in 1947. The agreement was formalized in 1950, when India became a republic, and full diplomatic relations were established between the two countries.
*India is Jordan’s 4th largest trade partner after Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. Trade between India and Jordan is governed by a 1976 bilateral agreement. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled US$2.228 billion in 2014-15, which was $12 million more than the previous fiscal.
*India exported $1.431 billion worth of goods to Jordan, and imported $857 million. Since the 2012-13 fiscal, the balance of trade has been in favour of India. The main commodities exported by India to Jordan are electrical machinery, cereals, frozen meat, organic and inorganic chemicals, animal fodders, engineering and automotive parts.
*A portion of the Saddzagloul Street in Amman was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Street on 11 October 2015.
*As of January 2016, over 10,000 Indians reside in Jordan. They are primarily employed in textile, construction, manufacturing, fertilizer companies, health care sector, universities, IT, finance and multilateral organizations.
Important agreement expected to be signed during this visit include
1. A framework on defense cooperation
2. Both sides are expected to ink a number of agreements to expand cooperation in several key sectors including healthcare, IT, customs and will look to firm up a framework pact for defense and security cooperation.
3. To explore ways of deepening trade ties.
4. Ways to fight radicalization
5. Deliberate on issues such as Palestine and other security issues
Geographical location of Jordan and climate
Jordan is located in the Middle East to the northwest of Saudi Arabia and to the east of Israel (map). The country is nearly landlocked except for a small area along the Gulf of Aqaba where it’s only port city, Al’Aqabah, is located. Jordan’s topography consists mainly of desert plateau but there is a highland area in the west. The highest point in Jordan is located along its southern border with Saudi Arabia and is called Jabal Umm ad Dami, which rises to 6,082 feet (1,854 m). The lowest point in Jordan is the Dead Sea at -1,338 feet (-408 m) in the Great Rift Valley that separates the east and west banks of the Jordan River along the border with Israel and the West Bank.
The climate of Jordan is mostly arid desert and drought is very common throughout the country. There is however a short rainy season in its western regions from November to April.
Border Countries: Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Syria
Lowest Point: Dead Sea at -1,338 feet (-408 m)
‘Indian Council of Cultural Relations’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: Set in the tony neighborhood of Malabar Hill in South Mumbai, Jinnah House, is on its way to becoming a venue for diplomatic soirees and possibly a museum showcasing South Asian culture.
The property, which is also known as South Court, was formerly owned by Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and was the subject of many legal disputes for eight decades. It has now come under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
*The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India, involved in India’s external cultural relations, through cultural exchange with other countries and their peoples. It was founded on 9 April 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of independent India.
*The Council addresses its mandate of cultural diplomacy through a broad range of activities. In addition to organising cultural festivals in India and overseas, the ICCR financially supports a number of cultural institutions across India, and sponsors individual performers in dance, music, photography, theatre, and the visual arts. It also administers the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, established by the Government of India in 1965, whose last award was in 2009.
‘GST revenue’ (GS3: Indian Economy and issues related to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment)
Issue: The Centre collected ₹86,318 crore in revenue from the Goods and Services Tax in January, according to official data released on Tuesday.
Main concern at this point of time
While the GST revenues and number of return filers are gradually increasing or are same as compared to the last month, the tax base and revenue numbers have certainly not reached expected levels
*The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a very significant step in the field of indirect tax reforms in India. By amalgamating a large number of Central and State taxes into a single tax, GST will mitigate ill effects of cascading or double taxation in a major way and pave the way for a common national market.
*From the consumer point of view, the biggest advantage would be in terms of reduction in the overall tax burden on goods, which is currently estimated to be around 25%-30%. It would also imply that the actual burden of indirect taxes on goods and services would be much more transparent to the consumer.
*Introduction of GST would also make Indian products competitive in the domestic and international markets owing to the full neutralization of input taxes across the value chain of production and distribution. Studies show that this would have a boosting impact on economic growth.
*Last but not the least, this tax, because of its transparent and self-policing character, would be easier to administer. It would also encourage a shift from the informal to formal economy.
Salient features of GST
The salient features of GST are as under:
(i) GST is applicable on ‘supply’ of goods or services as against the present concept on the manufacture of goods or on sale of goods or on provision of services.
(ii) GST is based on the principle of destination-based consumption taxation as against the present principle of origin-based taxation.
(iii) It is a dual GST with the Centre and the States simultaneously levying tax on a common base. GST to be levied by the Centre would be called Central GST(CGST) and that to be levied by the States would be called State GST (SGST).
(iv) An Integrated GST (IGST) would be levied an inter-state supply (including stock transfers) of goods or services. This shall be levied and collected by the Government of India and such tax shall be apportioned between the Union and the States in the manner as may be provided by Parliament by Law on the recommendation of the GST Council.
(v) Import of goods or services would be treated as inter-state supplies and would be subject to IGST in addition to the applicable customs duties.
(vi) CGST, SGST & IGST would be levied at rates to be mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the States. The rates would be notified on the recommendation of the GST Council. In a recent meeting, the GST Council has decided that GST would be levied at four rates viz. 5%, 12%, 16% and 28%. The schedule or list of items that would fall under each of these slabs has been worked out. In addition to these rates, a cess would be imposed on “demerit” goods to raise resources for providing compensation to States as States may lose revenue owing to the implementation of GST.
(vii) GST would replace the following taxes currently levied and collected by the Centre:-
a) Central Excise Duty
b) Duties of Excise (Medicinal and Toilet Preparations)
c) Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance)
d) Additional Duties of Excise (Textiles and Textile Products)
e) Additional Duties of Customs (commonly known as CVD)
f) Special Additional Duty of Customs(SAD)
g) Service Tax
h) Cesses and surcharge in so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
(viii) State taxes that would be subsumed within the GST are:-
a) State VAT
b) Central Sates Tax
c) Purchase Tax
d) Luxury Tax
e) Entry Tax (All forms)
f) Entertainment Tax and Amusement Tax (except those levied by the local bodies)
g) Taxes on advertisements
h) Taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling
i) State cesses and surcharges in so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
(ix) GST would apply on all goods and services except Alcohol for human consumption.
(x) GST on five specified petroleum products (Crude, Petrol, Diesel, ATF & Natural Gas) would by applicable from a date to be recommended by the GSTC.
(xi) Tobacco and tobacco products would be subject to GST. In addition, the Centre would have the power to levy Central Excise duty on these products.
Furthermore, the list of exempted goods and services would be kept to a minimum and it would be harmonized for the Centre and the States as well as across States as far as possible. Exports would be zero-rated supplies. Thus, goods or services that are exported would not suffer input taxes or taxes on finished products.
‘Smartphone Pact’ (Facts that could be asked in prelims)
Issue: Bharti Airtel and Google on Tuesday announced a partnership to bring low-cost smartphones powered by Android Oreo (Go edition) to the Indian market.
With this, India will become one of the first countries to commercially roll out smartphones running on Android Oreo (Go edition). Android Oreo (Go edition) is a version of Google’s Android operating system that has been optimized to run smoothly on low-end devices with 1GB of RAM or less.
‘Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017-18’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Karnataka won their third Vijay Hazare title as they outplayed Saurashtra by 41 runs in the final.
About Vijay Hazare Trophy
The Vijay Hazare Trophy, also known as the Ranji One Day Trophy, was started in 2002–03 as a limited-overs cricket domestic competition involving state teams from the Ranji Trophy plates. It is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare
Tamil Nadu has won the trophy 5 times.
Karnataka are the current champions of the trophy in 2017-18 who won their 3rd title beating Saurashtra in the finals.
‘Swajal Yojana’ (GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the centre and the states)
Issue: Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, today launched the Swajal pilot project at Village Bhikampura, Karauli, Rajasthan. Besides ensuring the availability of clean drinking water to every household round the year, the project would also generate employment.
About the programme
Swajal is a community owned drinking water programme for sustained drinking water supply. Under the scheme, 90% of the project cost will be taken care by the Government and the remaining 10% of the project cost will be contributed by the community. The Operations and management of the project will be cared by the local villagers.
‘National E-governance Awards’ (GS2: E-governance)
Issue: Dr Jitendra Singh presented the National e-governance Awards during the valedictory session of the two-day 21st National Conference on e-Governance in Hyderabad. He presented 19 awards in 8 categories for their commending efforts in use of technology. In each category, the gold carried Rs.2 Lakh cash prize & citation and silver carried Rs. one Lakh award.
National awards for E-governance
Purpose of Award
The purpose of the award is to:-
*Recognize achievements in the area of e-Governance
*Disseminate knowledge on effective methods of designing and implementing sustainable e-Governance initiatives
*Encourage incremental innovations in successful e-Governance solutions
*Promote and exchange experiences in solving problems, Mitigating risks, resolving issues and planning for success.
National Awards on e-Governance
To recognize and promote excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives, DAR&PG presents National Awards every year during National conference on e-Governance. Earlier awards were given in twelve categories. The award scheme has been revised and new categories for national Awards 2017-18 are:
*Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering.
*Outstanding Performance in Citizen-centric Service Delivery.
*Innovations in Existing Project of Government Departments Other Than PSUs.
*Best District Level Initiative Through ICT in (i) north east states (ii) hilly states + uts(-delhi) (iii) other states.
*Use of Spatial Technology and GIS in e-Governance.
*Innovative Use of ICT by Central Government PSUs/State Government PSUs.
*Outstanding Initiative in e-Governance by Academic/Research Institutions and NGOs Including Cooperatives/Federations/Societies.
*Innovative Use of ICT in e-Governance Projects by Start-ups, Registered with Government.