19th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Formalization of Indian Economy’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Historic tax reform, the Goods and Service Tax (GST), has resulted in formalization of economy and consequently information flow would eventually augment not only the Indirect Tax collections but also Direct Tax collections
What’s changed with GST?
- In the past, the Centre had little data on small manufacturers and consumption because the excise was imposed only at the manufacturing stage while the States had little data on the activities of local firms outside their borders. Under the GST, there will be now seamless flow of availability of common set of data to both the Centre and the States making Direct and Indirect Tax collections more effective.
- There are early signs of tax base expansion. Between June and July 2017, 6.6 lakh new agents, previously outside the tax net, sought GST registration. This is expected to rise consistently as the incentives for formalization increase
- Entire Textile chain is now brought under tax net.
The introduction of GST, a common Indirect Tax for both the States as well as the Central Government with its end to end digitization of all processes, is the biggest reform measure which is already creating more jobs in formal sector and eliminating transactions which are not recorded earlier in the books of accounts and thus, were outside the tax net so far. GST is designed to bring about better tax compliance and transparency in tax system.
‘Flood Forecasting’ (GS3: Disaster Management)
Issue: Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari has expressed hope that collaboration with Google will help in effective flood management in India.
Central Water Commission (CWC), India’s apex technical organization in the field of Water Resources, has entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Google
About the collaboration with Google
CWC would use state-of-the-art advances made by Google in the in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and geo spatial mapping for effective management of water resources particularly in the field of flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information to the masses widely using the dissemination platforms developed by Google. This initiative is likely to help crisis management agencies to deal extreme hydrological events in a better manner.
Under this Agreement, CWC and Google will share technical expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, geospatial mapping and analysis of hydrological observation data to collaborate on (i) improving flood prediction systems, which will help provide location-targeted, actionable flood warnings, (ii) high priority research project utilizing Google Earth Engine to help visualize and improve flood management and (iii) a cultural project to build online exhibitions on the Rivers of India .
The Ministry had earlier launched an ambitious programme ‘National Hydrology Project’ (NHP) during the year 2016-17. NHP is a World Bank assisted central sector scheme with pan India coverage. The objective of National Hydrology Project is to improve the extent, quality, and accessibility of water resources information, decision support system for floods and basin level resource assessment/planning and to strengthen the capacity of targeted water resources professionals and management institutions in India
‘Sandeep Bakshi’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Sandeep Bakhshi will assume charge today as the chief operating officer (COO) of India’s largest private sector bank by consolidated assets.
‘Rani Rashmoni’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The last of the five Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) project of Indian Coast Guard ‘Rani Rashmoni’ was commissioned into the Indian Coast Guard
The FPVs are equipped with advanced sensors and state-of-the-art equipment and are designed to perform multifarious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue, anti-smuggling and anti-poaching, operations. The 51 mtr ship is propelled by three MTU 4000 series diesel engines of 2720 capacity each, coupled with Rolls Royce Kamewa jets.
The patrol vessel is fitted with an advanced Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), to carry out search and rescue operation
Other features include Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Machinery Control System, Infra-red Communication System and the armament includes one CRN 91 Naval Gun along with its fire control system. The FPV was indigenously built by Hindustan Shipyard.
‘Ivan Duque’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Colombia has chosen Iván Duque, to be its next president after a long and divisive campaign that often centered on a controversial peace process with leftist rebels the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Colombia , officially the Republic of Colombia (is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Muisca, Quimbaya and the Tairona.
Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Ecologically, it is one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries, and the most densely bio-diverse of these per square kilometer
‘AADHAR Virtual ID’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI’s) plan to make non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) use Aadhaar Virtual IDs to authenticate customers from 1 July has put these firms in a fix.
Contention of NBFC
- NBFCs point out that using virtual IDs will give them access to limited details about the customers, which may make lending more difficult.
- The Aadhaar data of all customers were synced with credit bureaus, which allowed NBFCs to do e-KYC without the need for physical verification
- Virtual IDs mask the Aadhaar number; NBFCs believe the cost of customer acquisition will rise as they have to do additional physical checks.
- NBFCs also point out that many customers are not fully aware of Aadhaar virtual IDs as UIDAI is yet to publicize this new system.
What is AADHAR virtual ID?
The VID is a temporary, revocable 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number. The UIDAI, in a statement issued in January, said that one’s Aadhaar number cannot be derived from the VID that is generated. The virtual ID can be used for the purpose of authentication in the same way the Aadhaar number is used. Currently, VID can be generated on UIDAI’s resident portal. According to the UIDAI statement, various entities will have to migrate to the new system where they can accept the VID for the authentication.
Since this is a digital ID, Aadhaar holders can regenerate it multiple times, which makes it safer than providing your actual Aadhaar number. At present, the VID is valid for a minimum of one day, which means an Aadhaar holder would be able to re-generate a new VID a day after he has generated the first one. Further, there is no expiry period defined yet for the VID and it will be valid till the time a new one is generated by you. This particular facility, on the UIDAI website, can only be accessed if you have your mobile number registered in the UIDAI database. This is because all Aadhaar-related online services are one-time password (OTP) enabled and for this, registering your mobile number with UIDAI is a must.
‘Cannes Lions’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India has put up a good show by bagging a total of four metals including a gold, two silver and a bronze in the health and pharma categories on Day 1 of the ongoing Cannes International Festival of Creativity.
The Gold Lion was bagged by TBWA\India Mumbai for campaign titled ‘Blink to Speak’, executed for Asha Ek Hope Foundation in the pharma category. The path-breaking campaign was also awarded Grand Prix for Good.
The agency created an eye sign language guidebook for patients suffering from non-curable amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease which weakens muscles and impacts physical function. The new language solved the problem of communicating with ALS patients as they tend to lose their ability to speak. Instead, they use their hands to communicate. Blink to Speak alphabet has eight letters that can be used to communicate everything.
About the Cannes Lions
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event for those working in the creative communications, advertising and related fields. It is considered the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry.
The seven-day festival, incorporating the awarding of the Lions awards, is held yearly at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France. Each June around 11,000 registered delegates from 90 countries visit the Festival to celebrate the best of creativity in brand communication, discuss industry issues and network with one another
‘Hodeidah port’ (GS2: International Relations)
Issue: The Arab coalition which is fighting to secure the strategic Yemeni port of Hodeidah will be reaching out to India for its support
Why this proposal matters for India?
- The operation at Hodeidah would secure the energy lanes of India with the Gulf, and that the Arab coalition had sourced large quantity of relief material from India to help the Yemeni population.
- The campaign will ultimately help Indian maritime goals as the Houthis used the port for facilitating the piracy network in the western Indian Ocean region that is vital for India’s energy security
‘India- Italy ties’ (GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: India and on Monday agreed to boost cooperation in counter-terrorism and cybersecurity as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the top Italian leadership and discussed steps to revitalize bilateral ties.
Italy (officially the Italian Republic is a sovereign state in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous in southern Europe.
About Mediterranean Climate
A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by rainy winters and dry summers. While the climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where it is commonplace, it is also present in other areas of the planet, such as most of California in the United States, in parts of Western and South Australia, in southwestern South Africa, sections of Western and Central Asia, and in Central Chile. These are generally located on the western coasts of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator, typically between oceanic climates towards the poles (where they tend to be wetter), and semi-arid and arid climates towards the equator (where they tend to be drier).
In essence, and due to the seasonal shift of the subtropical high-pressure belts with the apparent movement of the Sun, a Mediterranean climate is an intermediate type between these other climates, with winters somewhat mimicking winters in oceanic climates and summers imitating dry seasons in semi-arid and arid climates. But contrary to oceanic climates, there are always a number of clear, sunny days in the wet season.
The resulting vegetation of Mediterranean climates are the garrigue in the Mediterranean Basin, the chaparral in California, the fynbos in South Africa and the Chilean scrubland in Chile. Areas with this climate are where the so-called “Mediterranean trinity” has traditionally developed: wheat, vine and olive.
‘National Data Centre’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Centre will set up the country’s biggest data centre in Bhopal with a capacity to host five lakh virtual servers, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.
What is a data centre?
A data center (or datacenter) is a facility composed of networked computers and storage that businesses or other organizations use to organize process, store and disseminate large amounts of data. A business typically relies heavily upon the applications, services and data contained within a data center, making it a focal point and critical asset for everyday operations.
‘Classification of diseases’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday released its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
The ICD is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, and contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death. It provides a common language that allows health professionals to share health information across the globe.
ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by Member States, and will come into effect on 1 January 2022. This release is an advance preview that will allow countries to plan how to use the new version, prepare translations, and train health professionals all over the country. The ICD is also used by health insurers, whose reimbursements depend on ICD coding; national health programme managers; data collection specialists; and others who track progress in global health and determine the allocation of health resources.
The new ICD also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide. Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders.
‘Devrais’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Since times immemorial, ‘Devrais’ or ‘sacred groves’ in Maharashtra’s Western Ghats have been nurtured by local communities residing there, who draw upon traditional knowledge to conserve these patches of forestland.
However, steadily eroding ties to nature and rising urban migration among the younger generation in these communities have led to a decline in awareness about the importance of preserving these groves.
New initiative to conserve
A city-based environmental NGO has come up with a unique initiative to comprehensively document these ‘green islands’ in a bid to conserve this rich and vital habitat in the Western Ghats – one of the 34 globally important biodiversity hotspots.
Biospheres, in collaboration with the State Forest Department, plans to assess the flora and fauna using drone cameras and other audio-visual media in a bid to sensitize policy makers and increase awareness among the urban populace about the importance of conserving these shrinking habitats.
What is a Devrai?
The word ‘Devrai’ is a compound of Dev meaning ‘God’ and ‘Rai’ meaning forest. The groves are often a rich source of rare fruits and plants.
About Sacred Groves
Sacred groves of India are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected, and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited within these patches.