Daily Current Affairs - 03-04-2021

The Haryana State Government recently added several new provisions to maintain the decorum of the State Assembly. The provisions have been included based on the recommendations made by the committee constituted by the Speaker of the Haryana State Legislative Assembly.

New Rules

The following are the new rules added to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Haryana State Legislative Assembly:

New Definition to the Leader of Opposition

The new rules have given different definition to the Leader of Opposition. According to the new definition, the Leader of Opposition is the leader of the legislative party with largest number of members other than the party that has formed the government. If more than one party has got equal number of members then the party with greater number of votes is to be chosen. If the number of votes received are also equal, then the Office of the Leader of Opposition shall be held alternatively.

The Ministry of Finance recently announced that the businesses with annual turn over of more than Rs 5 crores will have to furnish six-digit HSN code on their tax invoices. The businesses with an annual turn over of less than five crores of rupees have to furnish four-digit HSN code. Previously, the requirement was four digits and two digits respectively.

What is HSN Code?

HSN is Harmonised System of Nomenclature. It was adopted by World Customs Organization in 1988. It is a six-digit code that classifies various products. India adopted the HSN coding system in 1986 (even before WCO) mainly to classify commodities for Customs and Central Excise.

Understanding the HSN Code

The HSN code consists of 21 sections. Each section is divided into 99 chapters. Each chapter is divided into 1244 headings. Each heading is divided into 5,224 sub headings. India uses eight-digit HSN code.

Who needs HSN code in India?

In India, the importers, exporters and manufactures have been using the HSN codes for a long time. Indian dealers with an annual turn over of less than Rs 1.5 crores need not adopt HSN codes for their commodities.

Significance of HSN code

More than 200 countries are using the HSN codes to gather international trade statistics, make trade policies and to monitor goods. Thus, the HSN system helps to maintain a harmonized trade procedure all over the world. It also helps to reduce the costs in international trade.

What is SAC HSN Code?

SAC Code is Services Accounting. The SAC HSN codes are issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). These codes are used in invoices generated for the services delivered.

In December 2020, the CBIC had made it mandatory to mention the eight digit HSN code in tax invoices for 49 chemical based products.

Pakistan had stopped all the trade with India after Abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian Government. Also, the Pakistani Government had announced that it would not talk to India until the Indian Government completely rolled back the changes in Jammu and Kashmir. Lately, Pakistan has been softening its stand. The Wagah border has been reopened for cotton and sugar imports from India almost after two years!

India-Pakistan Trade

Why is Pakistan easing out its stand?

India has had trade surplus with Pakistan over the years. In 2018-19, Pakistan was one of the top fifty trade partners of India. However, Pakistan was pushed out of the list in 2019-20. This affected Pakistan badly as the country is heavily dependent on India for its raw materials, especially in pharmaceuticals and textiles industries.

In 2018-19, organic chemicals and cotton accounted for half of Pakistani imports from India. The other major Pakistani imports from India are nuclear reactors, plastic, dyeing extracts, boilers, mechanical appliances, machinery. After the ban, the imports of these products fell drastically. The COVID-19 crisis worsened the situation for Pakistan. This is now forcing Pakistan to ease trade relations with India.

Impacts on India

While Pakistan is facing troubles due to the trade ban, India has been stable in spite of the issue. This is because India has found alternate trading destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Chile and UAE.

India mainly imports oil, Sulphur, edible fruits, mineral fuels, plastering materials, leather, slag and ash and ores from Pakistan.

The TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Limited), Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Government of India have launched two interesting competitions for the tribal people. They are “Be the Brand Ambassador of Tribes India” and “Be a Friend of TRIBES INDIA” contest. The contests were launched in association with MyGov.in.

About the Contests

The contests were launched mainly to promote tribal crafts, lifestyle and culture. These contests will help in increasing the awareness about tribal heritage, crafts and art among the general public. With more awareness, the citizens will contribute more towards the tribal empowerment by purchasing more tribal products.

Be the Brand Ambassador of Tribes India

This contest invites stories featuring a tribal product across the country. The story should highlight the experience of the customer in using the tribal product.

Be a “Friend” of TRIBES INDIA

It is a quiz contest on Indian culture.

Significance

Tribes constitute to 8% of Indian population. However, they are the most disadvantaged sections of the society. A general attitude that prevails among the public is that the tribes have to be taught and helped. However, the truth is that the tribal population have a lot to teach the urban India. Their handicrafts, arts and skills need to be preserved and promoted. The contests will help to achieve these objectives.

The contest is primarily held by TRIFED. TRIFED works towards improving the livelihoods of tribal people.

Other Initiatives of TRIFED

The Van Dhan Yojana was launched in 2018. It aims to promote the minor forest produce by establishing Van Dhan Vikas Kendras. These kendras provide training facilities, infrastructure support, skill building support, working capital to the tribal population. In August 2020, TRIFED launched TRIFOOD project along with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. These TRIFOOD parks operate along with Van Dhan Yojana.

In March 2020, the Tech for Tribals scheme was launched. It aims to provide training to the forest product gatherers. The scheme empowers the tribal entrepreneurs to run their business with marketable products.

The Van Dhan Samajik Doori Jagrookta Abhiyan was launched to educate the tribal population in COVID-19 related safety measures. This programme was launched in association with UNICEF.

The Indian Railways has achieved the highest ever electrification of sections during 2020-21. It has covered 6,015 kilo metres of electrification in a single year. This is 37% higher than that achieved in 2019-20.

About the achievements

What is a Traction Substation?

A Traction Substation is an electrical substation. It converts electric power provided by the electric power industry to a suitable power to be used in electric trains.

Electric Rail Transport in India

Central Organisation for Railway Electrification

The CORE is the centralised agency for railway electrification of Indian Railways. It was founded in 1961. The headquarters of CORE is located in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.

Benefits of Railway Electrification

Electric Locomotive manufacturing units in India

Electric Locomotives are mainly manufactured in Chittaranjan Locomotive Works located in West Bengal. It was founded in 1950. It is the largest locomotive manufacturer in the world. In 2019-20, it produced 431 locomotives.

The Madhepura Electric Locomotive Factory is located in Bihar. It is a joint venture between Alstom and Ministry of Railway. It was established in 2015.

The Ministry of Road Transport recently announced that the National Register for Driving Licenses is to be created. This is being done to remove duplication of driving licenses in the country. Most of the states are already on the SARATHI portal of National Informatics Centre. These states have been instructed to migrate to the newly created national register.

About the register

Around 1.5 lakh deaths occur in India annually due to road crashes. Most of these accidents are due to driver’s fault. The register will include separate section to show the names of the people whose driving licenses were revoked. Also, the register will red-flag them. This will help to minimise rash driving in the country.

Driving License in India

Types of Driving License in India

The different types of permanent driving license in India are as follows

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

The eligibilities and rules to obtain a driving license have been provided under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. According to the act, a theoretical test (15 multiple choice questions) on basic driving and traffic rules should be conducted at the RTO when a person applies for license.

Section 130 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 allows a police officer to ask for vehicle related documents. When asked, the driver should produce the documents within fifteen days at the police station or at the concerned department.

Speed Limits in India

In April 2018, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways fixed the maximum speed on expressways as 120 km/hr. The speed limit for national highways is 100 km/hr. The speed limit for urban roads is 70 km/hr for M1 category vehicles. The M1 category vehicles are those that have less than eight seats.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently amended the rules of thermal power plants emission standards. The new rule has extended the deadline for the thermal power plants within ten kilometres of National Capital Region and in cities with more than ten lakh population to comply with the new emission norms by the end of 2022. Earlier these power plants were required to comply with the revised norms by December 2019.

What is the plan?

A task force is to be constituted by the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board). The task force will categorise thermal power plants in three categories based on their location.

The deadline for the thermal power plants in “Non-Attainment Cities” to meet the emission norms has been extended till December 31, 2023. The non-attainment cities are those that have consistently failed to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Around 124 such cities have been identified by the CPCB.

The coal fired power plants in the rest of the areas have to comply the new standards by December 2024.

Background

In 2015, the Environment Ministry revised the emission norms for Sulphur Dioxides, Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matter released from thermal power plants. According to these norms, the thermal power plants have to install emission control systems by 2017. However, the deadline was pushed to 2022 due to implementation issues.

Pollutants from Thermal Power Plants

The pollutants released from a thermal power plant are Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, Suspended Particulate Matter, non-methane hydrocarbons and lead. However, Sulphur Dioxide is the major pollutant released from a thermal power plant.

Sulphur Dioxide in India

According to a report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, the Sulphur Dioxide emissions in India declined by 6% in 2019 as compared to 2018. Still, India is the largest emitter of Sulphur Dioxide. India has chosen the Flue Gas Desulphurization technique to reduce the emissions of toxic Sulphur Dioxide.

Flue Gas Desulphurisation

The removal of Sulphur Dioxide is called Flue Gas Desulphurization. The method removes gaseous pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide from exhaust flue gases generated from boilers and furnaces.

Initially, India had set 2017 as deadline to install Flue Gas Desulphurization Units. However, it was later changed to 2022.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) recently standardised the technical notes for filing health and motor insurance policies.

What are the new rules introduced?

The IRDAI has standardised the technical notes to file health and motor insurances. The insurers will now need to submit a technical note detailing the price of his or her insurance product (Insurer is the person who offers the insurance). In other words, the insurer should explain the pricing of every feature of the insurance product. By this, the customers can make an informed and calculative choice. Also, this will ensure uniformity among insurers.

Background

Earlier there were huge price hikes in the health insurance sector because of new feature additions. Now with this new change, the insurance company is answerable to every penny charged over a feature.

What is the issue?

IRDAI recently modified the guidelines on health insurance products. Accordingly, the health insurers were not allowed to modify existing benefits. However, they shall add new benefits to their existing products. This increased the prices of the insurance policies.

Legal Parameters of the new changes

The changes are being introduced under the provisions of Section 34 of Insurance Act, 1938 and Schedule III of IRDAI (Health Insurance) Regulations, 2016.

IRDAI

The IRDAI is the apex body that regulates and develops the insurance industry of India. It was established under the IRDAI Act, 1999. The headquarters of IRDAI is located in Hyderabad, Telangana. The main functions of IRDAI are as follows

Insurance sector in India

The insurance sector in India has witnessed several changes over the years. They are as follows

The biggest floating solar power plant of India is to be set up at Ramagundam in Telangana.

About Ramagundam Solar Power Plant

World largest Floating Solar Power Plant

The largest solar power plant in the world is being set up by India on Omkar Eshwar Dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh. The cost of this project is estimated to be Rs 3,000 crores. The project is expected to start its power generation by 2022-23.

Floating Solar Power Plants in India

The first floating solar power plant in India was installed in Kolkata in 2014. Currently, the largest floating solar power plant of India is located in Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad, Kerala. The capacity of this plant is 500 KW.

Types of Solar Power Plants

The two major types of solar power plants are Floating Photo Voltaic Solar Power Plant and Concentrated Solar Power Plant. The concentrated solar power plants use mirrors to redirect the solar power. On the other hand, the floating solar power plants are mounted on a structure that floats on a water body.

Advantages of Floating Solar Power Plants

For the first time, international scientists working on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) have created an image showing the magnetic field around a black hole. The black hole is located in M87 galaxy.

Black Hole Magnetic Field Image

In 2019, the astronomers working on the EHT captured the first image of the shadow of the same black hole. The shadow of the black hole is a dark region that surrounds the black hole. It is three times the diameter of the black hole. The shadow of the black hole is the point beyond which even light cannot escape.

Now the scientists have analyzed the polarization of light in the bright region around the shadow of the black hole. According to the analysis, some matter is sucked into the black hole and the other matter is blasted out in jets. This blasted out matter is hot and violent. It creates large amounts of light as the matter here is accelerated.

The conclusion of the analysis is that only presence of strong magnetic fields shall polarize this huge volume of light energy.

The new image will help to understand how powerful jets of radiation are emitted by black holes.

What is Polarization of light?

Polarization is a phenomenon caused due to the electromagnetic property of light. Light waves vibrate in more than one plane and is referred to as unpolarized light wave. On the other hand, the polarized light waves are waves in which vibrations occur in a single plane.

As light waves are electromagnetic in nature, only strong magnetic field can polarize light waves.

M87

Messier 87 or M87 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy. It has more than 15,000 globular clusters. It is larger in size as compared to the Milky Way that has only 150 globular clusters. The M87 is one of the brightest radio sources. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. It is 53 million light years away from the earth.

Event Horizon Telescope

The Event Horizon Telescope is a telescope array that consists of a global network of radio telescopes. The main observational targets of the telescope project are two black holes. These black holes are located in Messier 87 and Sagittarius A. Just like M 87, Sagittarius A is also a radio source and is located at the Galactic Center of the Milky Way. Galactic Centre is the rotational center of the Milky Way galaxy.

The Milky Way galaxy is at its brightest in three spots. They are Sagittarius, Scorpius and Ophiuchus. The Milky Way is brighter in Sagittarius probably due to the presence of a black hole.

In 2020, Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzei received Nobel Prize in Physics. They discovered that black hole is the only explanation for the mass and brightness around Sagittarius A.

A container ship called the “Ever Given” recently ran aground in the Suez Canal. This blocked more than 400 ships from transiting the canal. The blockage created huge impacts on global trade and is referred to as Suez Canal Crisis 2021 or Suez Canal Blockade.

Impacts of the Blockade

The Cargo ship was headed from China to Netherlands. It had run aground in the canal and got stuck for a week. The global trade losses due to the blockage is estimated to be 9 billion USD.

India’s Four Point Plan to deal the Blockade

The Government of India had framed a 4-Point Plan to deal with the Suez Canal Blockade. The plan included prioritization of cargo, advisory to ports, freight rates and re-routing of ships. The plan mainly focuses on reducing Indian trade losses due to the blockage.

Under prioritization of cargo, the APEDA, MPEDA and FIEO will work together and identify perishable cargo for priority movement.

APEDA-Agricultural and Processed food products Export Development Authority

MPEDA-Marine Products Export Development Authority

FIEO-Federation of Indian Export Organizations

About Suez Canal

The Suez Canal connects Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The canal was officially opened in 1869. Until 1956, the canal was primarily owned by the European shareholders (mostly British and French) and partly by the Egyptian Government. In 1956, the then President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal. This led to Suez Canal Crisis.

Suez Canal Crisis

It is also called Suez Crisis or the second Arab-Israeli war. In Israel, it is called the Sinai war and in the Arab world it is called the Tripartite Aggression. The motive of the aggression was to regain the control of Suez Canal and remove President Nasser who had nationalized the canal. The aggression against Egypt was started by Israel followed by UK and France. The three allies succeeded in capturing the canal. However, there was huge pressure from the US and the Soviet Union against the invasion.

The crisis led to the closure of the canal between October 1956 and March 1957. Due to the conflict, the UN created the United Nations Emergency Force Peacekeepers. The force polices Egyptian-Israeli border.

The British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned due to the crisis. The Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the conflict.