Daily Current Affairs - 18-08-2021

China has issued new draft rules on the anticompetitive practices by Internet Companies. New rules would prevent internet companies from engaging in anticompetitive practices.

Key Points

Impact of the new guidelines

Shares of Chinese tech companies declined on August 17, 2021 and extended a monthslong slump. It was driven by regulatory oversight. Share of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. decreased by 4.8% while that of Tencent Holdings Ltd. by 4%. According to the market regulator, new rules targeting internet companies seeks to clarify an existing law on unfair competition.

Alibaba’s antitrust fine

In the year 2021, Alibaba was hit with a record antitrust fine of $2.8 billion for a practice called as “er xuan yi,” or “choose one out of two.” It was found during an investigation by Beijing’s top market regulator that, e-commerce company had abused its dominant market position as it forced vendors to exclusively sell on its platform. Another Food-delivery giant Meituan is also under investigation for same practice.

World Health Organisation (WHO) issued medical alerts on fake Covishield Vaccines in India.

Key Points

How products were confirmed fake?

Products were identified as fake on the basis that, they fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition and source. For instance, in India, Covishield 2ml was identified even though SII does not produce vaccine in 2ml (four doses). In Uganda, Covishield with Batch 4121Z040 and expiry date of 10.08.2021 was reported that SII confirmed to be fake.

Concerns of fake vaccines

Falsified covid-19 vaccines have a serious risk to global public health. It put an additional burden on vulnerable populations as well as health systems.

Issue with the CoWin platform

CoWin platform has not been equipped to handle the logistics of vaccine distribution. It only notes the batch number at the time of vaccination in order to ensure that, beneficiary knows which vaccine has been administered to him.

Supreme Court has allowed the women to appear for National Defence Academy (NDA) exam which is scheduled for September 5, 2021.

Key Points

Background

Supreme Court allowed women for NDA exam following a writ petition that was filed by Kush Kalra. Kush Kalra filed petition, seeking permission for women to sit in the NDA entrance exam. Petition highlighted the issue of violation of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution as it was denying opportunity to eligible women candidates to join NDA.

National Defence Academy (NDA)

NDA is the joint defence service training institute of Indian Armed Forces. In the academy, cadets of three services namely, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy are trained together before they go on to respective service academy for pre-commission training. It is located in Khadakwasla in Pune, Maharashtra. This academy is world’s first tri-service academy. The National Defence Academy was commissioned on December 7, 1954, with an inauguration ceremony that was held on January 16, 1955.

Alumni of NDA

Alumni of NDA comprises of 3 Param Vir Chakra recipients and 12 Ashoka Chakra recipients. It has also produced 27 service Chiefs of Staff as of now.

NDA EXAM

Applicants to the NDA are selected through a written exam conducted by the UPSC. It is followed by extensive interviews by Services Selection Board. It covers general aptitude, team skills, psychological testing, Physical and social skills besides the medical tests.

Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana issued a formal notice to government because of several petitions.

Key points

About Pegasus

It is a spyware developed by Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group. This spyware can be installed on mobile phones and other devices running iOS and Android. According to 2021 Project Pegasus revelations, current Pegasus software can damage all recent iOS versions up to iOS 14.6. Earlier version of Pegasus was capable of tracking calls, reading text messages, collecting passwords, access microphone of target device etc by spear-phishing. Latest version of the spyware can now infect the device through “zero-click” attacks.  It does not require any interaction from owner of the phone. It has been named after Pegasus- winged horse of Greek mythology.

What is Pegasus controversy in India?

It was reported recently that, Pegasus Spyware has allegedly been used to secretly monitor and spy on the extensive host of public figures in India. Software has targeted Human Rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world. They were targeted with phone malware that was sold to governments by an Israeli surveillance firm.

TCS company has become the second Indian company to cross the market value of Rs 13 lakh crore on August 17, 2021.

Key Points

Background

TCS reported a 28.5 per cent year-on-year growth in the consolidated net profit amounting to Rs 9,008 crore for the quarter ended in June. Its consolidated revenue for the quarter increased by 18.5 per cent on year amounting to Rs 45,411 crore.

About Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

TCS is a multinational information technology (IT) services and consulting company of India. It is headquartered in Mumbai. However, its largest campus is located in Chennai. TCS is the largest IT services company worldwide by market capitalisation, as of February 2021. TCS is a subsidiary of Tata Group. It is operating in 149 locations in 46 countries. TCS was ranked at 64th place in 2015 in the Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies ranking. It tanked 11th on Fortune India 500 list, as of 2018.

Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to respond to a plea that seeks to declare “Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund a State under the Constitution.

Key Points

Court’s conclusion

According to the Delhi High Court, PM CARES Fund is not ‘State’ under the Constitution. So, use of the domain name ‘gov’, Prime Minister’s photograph, State emblem etc should be stop.

About the petition

About PM CARES Fund

PM CARES fund was created on March 27, 2020 in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic. Fund was created to combat, contain and boost relief efforts against the pandemic. Documentation for the creation of this fund has not been made public. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is the chairman of this fund. Its trustees comprise of Minister of Defence (Rajnath Singh) Minister of Home Affairs (Amit Shah) and Minister of Finance (Nirmala Sitharaman).

United Kingdom (UK) has stated its aim to start negotiations for a trade agreement with India by the end of 2021.

Key points

Background

After exiting the European Union in 2020, Britain is working towards securing its trade deals and strengthening its ties with nations in Indo-Pacific region comprising of fastest-growing economies.

India-UK interim trade deal

UK government is planning for some quick “interim” trade deal with India. This would include tariffs cut on products like Scotch and whisky. This trade deal will also comply with the World Trade Organisation charter. Under the interim trade deal, Indian producers like that of rice could get greater access to the UK market.

India-UK bilateral trade

Bilateral trade between India and UK stood at 18.3 billion in the year 2020. It was lesser than trade of 23.3 billion pounds in 2019.  India and UK have also launched a new Enhanced Trade Partnership. It opened ways for future Free Trade Agreement. Currently, India is the largest market with which the UK has committed to negotiating any trade deal. India is the second largest investor in the UK economy. About 842 Indian companies in the UK, are employing more than 110,000 people. Combined revenue of Indian companies has increased by 87% in the last five years.

The Godfather of Sudoku, Maki Kaji, passed away at the age of 69, due to bile duct cancer, on August 17, 2021.

Key Points

Who was Maki Kaji?

Maki Kaji was the president of Nikoli Co. Ltd. It is a Japanese puzzle manufacturer. He was popularly called as “the father of Sudoku” as he played a key role in popularizing this number game. He also invented other puzzle games including Masyu. He recently (July 2021) resigned as head of Nikoli, before his death.

Background

He was born in in Sapporo, Hokkaido on October 8, 1951. His father was an engineer at a telecom company while his mother was an employer of a kimono shop. He did his schooling from Shakujii High School in Sapporo. Later he studied literature at Keio University, but dropped out in his first year. After several jobs such as being a roadie, a waiter and a construction worker, he lastly started a publishing business.

About Nikoli

Nikoli was a quarterly puzzle magazine by Kaji. Magazine was named after a race horse that had won Guineas Stakes race in Ireland. Later he founded the company with same name. Nikoli magazine was the company’s main product.

About Sudoku

Sudoku is a logic-based, combinatorial, number-placement puzzle. Puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid for which a well-posed puzzle has a single solution.

Chhattisgarh government launched the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Bhumihin Majdur Nyay Yojana’. Under this scheme, Rs 6000 will be provided to each of 12 lakh landless labourers.

Key Points

Aim of the scheme

This scheme has been launched with the aim of providing support to rural landless labourers with some minimum wages. This minimum wage will help them to get access to basic amenities. Beneficiaries will receive their benefits before March 31, 2022.

Ensured amount

Under the scheme, families of the beneficiaries will be given an ensured amount of Rs 6000 annually.

Redressal mechanism

Scheme also provides for a mechanism to resolve any discrepancy related to beneficiary’s bank account, within 15 days.

Focus area of the scheme

This scheme focuses on covering MGNREGA and contract workers. It will also be providing assistance to the beneficiaries like barbers, blacksmiths, washermen & washerwomen and priests in the state of Chhattisgarh.

How they can avail benefits?

Beneficiaries of the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Bhumihin Majdur Nyay Yojana’ are required to register themselves on dedicated portal from September 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021.

Third series of Student Entrepreneurship Program 3.0 (SEP 3.0) was launched on August 16, 2021 for the young innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL).

Key Points

 About the SEP 3.0

Under this program, a team from each school comprising of 6 students and a teacher will be allocated seed funding in order to creating their own start-up and design. They can also prototype their innovation using 3D printing, define product pricing, prepare marketing campaign, and create expansion strategy. Through this program, team will get the real feel of ‘How a startup works!’. Startup of each school will participate in a playful competition at the end of the programme and present their marketing campaign before experts from industry and academia.

Significance of SEP 3.0

Number of teams

50 teams from 26 states have been selected for the SEP 3.0. It include 20 teams of ATL Marathon 2019, 10 teams from Aspirational Districts, 10 teams selected by Dassault, and 10 teams from Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh & North east regions.

Government of India announced MeitY-NASSCOM Start-up Women Entrepreneur Awards 2020-2021 on August 17, 2021.

Key Points

Government’s focus

Government has set a new benchmark for inclusive development by setting the basic values around ‘antyodaya’. It works on the philosophy of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayaas. Empowerment of women and promotion of entrepreneurship among them is also among key focus areas of the Government. Government has been taking several transformative steps such as:

  1. MUDRA scheme to provide interest free loans to the poor.
  2. Ujjwala scheme under which women are given free gas connections to save them from smoke-filled cooking
  3. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme to educate the girl child,
  4. Abolition of triple talaq for the dignity of women.
  5. National Policy on Software Products, 2019- under which government is placing special emphasis on promoting and recognising women led entrepreneurship as leaders for tomorrow.

Startups and Entrepreneurs

Encouraging Startups and Entrepreneurs is also among thrust areas of Government with the help of StartUp India and Invest India programs.

Gender equality

This award is significant in bringing the gender equality. Women are leading by example including from winning medals in Olympics to building tech based Innovative solutions. Indian IT sector has also played a key role in gender equality. As per the NASSCOM, 35 % of the total IT workforces are women.

Centre government notified the rates and guidelines for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) export incentive scheme.

Key Points

Principle of RoDTEP Scheme

RoDTEP scheme works on the principle that “taxes and duties should not be exported, while taxes and levies on exported products should either be exempted or remitted to exporters”.

How taxes are charged under scheme?

Under the RoDTEP scheme, duties, taxes and levies are charged on exported products at state and local levels. It refunds the prior stage cumulative indirect taxes on goods as well as services used in production of the exported product and their distribution. Rebate will not apply to duties and taxes that are already exempted, remitted or credited. RoDTEP support will be available for eligible exporters as a percentage of Freight on Board (FOB) value. Rebate on some export products will be subject to value cap per unit of exported product.

Outlay of the scheme

Ministry of Finance will finalise the overall outlay of the RoDTEP scheme in consultation with the Department of Commerce. Ministry will take into account all the factors before finalising it.

Who will implement the scheme?

This scheme will be implemented by Customs with the help of simplified IT System. Ministry will issue rebate in the form of transferable duty credit or electronic scrip (e-scrip). It will be maintained by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in an electronic ledger.

Centre government notified the rates and guidelines for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) export incentive scheme.

Key Points

Principle of RoDTEP Scheme

RoDTEP scheme works on the principle that “taxes and duties should not be exported, while taxes and levies on exported products should either be exempted or remitted to exporters”.

How taxes are charged under scheme?

Under the RoDTEP scheme, duties, taxes and levies are charged on exported products at state and local levels. It refunds the prior stage cumulative indirect taxes on goods as well as services used in production of the exported product and their distribution. Rebate will not apply to duties and taxes that are already exempted, remitted or credited. RoDTEP support will be available for eligible exporters as a percentage of Freight on Board (FOB) value. Rebate on some export products will be subject to value cap per unit of exported product.

Outlay of the scheme

Ministry of Finance will finalise the overall outlay of the RoDTEP scheme in consultation with the Department of Commerce. Ministry will take into account all the factors before finalising it.

Who will implement the scheme?

This scheme will be implemented by Customs with the help of simplified IT System. Ministry will issue rebate in the form of transferable duty credit or electronic scrip (e-scrip). It will be maintained by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in an electronic ledger.