09th Jan, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘National Anti-profiteering authority’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017
It has been established to ensure that the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices. Further, the following steps have been taken by the NAA to ensure that customers get the full benefit of tax cuts:
- Holding regular meetings with the Zonal Screening Committees and the Chief Commissioners of Central Tax to stress upon consumer awareness programmes;
- Launching a helpline to resolve the queries of citizens regarding registration of complaints against profiteering.
- Receiving complaints through email and NAA portal.
- Working with consumer welfare organizations in order to facilitate outreach activities.
‘Modernization of Police force’ (GS3: Internal security)
Issue: Ministry of Home Affairs has been supplementing the efforts of the State Governments for equipping and modernizing their police forces under the scheme of ‘Assistance to States for Modernization of Police’
About the scheme
Under this scheme, the States have been providing central assistance for acquisition of latest weaponry, training gadgets, advanced communication and forensic equipment etc. Jammu & Kashmir, insurgency affected North Eastern States and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts have also been provided assistance for purchase of operational vehicles and for construction of police building, etc.
Other measures taken to modernize the police forces in our country include:
- The Crime and Criminal Network and Systems (CCTNS) has been rolled out nationally and as on 30.11.2018, it has been deployed in 14,764 police stations out of 15,705 police stations in the country.
- Ministry of Home Affairs has also approved a scheme titled ‘Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) on 5.10.2018 at an estimated cost of Rs. 415.86 crore to deal with all types of cybercrime in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
‘Urban-rural gap’ (GS2: Inequality)
Issue: Government is implementing several programmes to make sure the present rural-urban divide is tackled successfully
Some of the programmes taken in this regard include:
The Government is implementing several programmes that aim at bringing about overall improvement in the quality of life of the rural people and bridging the urban rural gap through: creation of employment opportunities; strengthening of livelihood opportunities; creation of rural infrastructure; provision of other basic amenities; etc. These programmes, inter alia, include: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for wage employment, Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission for livelihoods promotion through self-employment, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana for rural housing, National Rurban Mission to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters, Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme to generate self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth, National Social Assistance Programme for enhancing the incomes of rural poor and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for rural roads.
Genetically Modified (GM) Crops (GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: The productivity of cotton increased from 191 kg per hectare in 2002-03 to 477 kg per hectare in 2017-18 and the production of cotton has been increased from 86.21 lakh bales in 2002-03 to 348.88 lakh bales in 2017-18 due to adoption of Bt. cotton in the Country.
What are GM crops?
GM is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.
The characteristics of all living organisms are determined by their genetic makeup and its interaction with the environment. The genetic makeup of an organism is its genome, which in all plants and animals is made of DNA. The genome contains genes, regions of DNA that usually carry the instructions for making proteins. It is these proteins that give the plant its characteristics. For example, the colour of flowers is determined by genes that carry the instructions for making proteins involved in producing the pigments that colour petals.
Genetic modification of plants involves adding a specific stretch of DNA into the plant’s genome, giving it new or different characteristics. This could include changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease. The new DNA becomes part of the GM plant’s genome which the seeds produced by these plants will contain.
Regulatory framework for GM crops in India
Evaluation of each application of GM crop is done on a case-to-case basis after a thorough examination of health, environment, food and feed safety assessment studies undertaken in a systematic and scientific manner as per prescribed guidelines, manuals and standard operating procedures stipulated by various regulatory agencies under the Rules, 1989 from time to time. The data generated by the applicants is reviewed at every step in the development process of GM crops by various Statutory Committees under the Rules, 1989 such as Institutional Biosafety Committee, Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)
It is established under MoEFCC is the apex body to accord notified under Rules 1989. For approval of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle. The GEAC is also responsible for approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials
‘SAARC swap facility’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Sri Lanka Central Bank on Wednesday said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has agreed to provide $400 million under a swap arrangement to boost the island nation’s reserves.
The RBI has agreed to provide the funds under its Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) swap facility
What is a swap agreement?
A currency swap, also known as a cross-currency swap, is an off-balance sheet transaction in which two parties exchange principal and interest in different currencies. The parties involved in currency swaps are generally financial institutions that either act on their own or as an agent for a non-financial corporation. The purpose of a currency swap is to hedge exposure to exchange rate risk or reduce the cost of borrowing a foreign currency.
Reason for this step
Available central bank data showed that in 2018, foreign investors had pulled out a net ₹22.8 billion out of stocks, and ₹159.8 billion from government securities. The Sri Lankan rupee ended last Thursday at an all-time low of 183 against the US dollar. The rupee fell 19% in 2018, making it one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia.
‘KHELO India’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Sheer energy marked the inauguration of the Khelo India Youth Games at the cosy indoor badminton hall of the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi recently
About Khelo India programme
The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establish India as a great sporting nation.
Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years. Under-17 athletes have been invited to participate across 16 disciplines, which are as follows: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
‘Reservation’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Parliament on Wednesday cleared the Constitutional Amendment Bill guaranteeing 10% quota in education and employment to economically weaker sections in the general category, following an approval by the Rajya Sabha.
Highlights of the bill passed
- The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill was introduced by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot
- Reference is made to Article 46 of the Constitution of India, a Directive Principle that urges the government to protect the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society. While socially disadvantaged sections have enjoyed affirmative action, no such benefit was provided to the economically weaker sections, the Bill states.
- Reservation would be applicable to jobs in both Central and State governments, adding that the legislation gave powers to States to determine the economic criteria for identification of beneficiaries.
‘Digital payments’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India has appointed a five-member panel headed by Nandan Nilekani to suggest ways to improve digital payments. The committee will submit its report in 90 days from its first meeting.
The panel would assess the current levels of digital payments in financial inclusion, suggest measures to strengthen the safety and security of digital payments, provide a road map for increasing customer confidence to use digital transactions, and suggest a medium-term strategy for deepening of digital payments.