Daily Current Affairs - 01-02-2021

The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced two new centrally sponsored scheme namely, the PM AatmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana and the Mission Poshan 2.0 while presenting the Union Budget 2021.

Highlights

PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana

The PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana comprises of following interventions:

  1. To provide support around 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres.
  2. Establishment of PM National Institution for One Health.
  3. Establishment of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals.
  4. Establishment of 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
  5. Creation of the Integrated public health labs in all the districts and 3382 block public health units in all the 11 states.
  6. Establishment of Critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions.
  7. To strengthen the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units.
  8. To expand the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States and UTs so as to connect all public health labs.
  9. To establish the Bio-Safety Level III laboratories.
  10. Creation of the 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units.
  11. Establishment of the Regional Research Platform for WHO South-East Asia Region.

Mission Poshan 2.0

Mission Poshan 2.0 will be launched with the objective of improving the nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome. This scheme will merge the Poshan Abhiyan and the Supplementary Nutrition Programme. The mission seeks to improve the nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts.

Aspirational Districts

Aspirational Districts are those districts that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators in India. These districts are aspirational in the light that, if any improvement is being done in these districts it can lead to the overall improvement in human development in India.

The Union Education Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ addressed the ASEAN India Hackathon.

Highlights

India-ASEAN Relation

The background and the foundation of the India-ASEAN relations lies in the shared beliefs, religions, and culture. India is the largest democratic and the demographic country of the region. Thus, it becomes India can lead the ASEAN community. In that line, India has extended its support to ASEAN countries by providing COVID-19 vaccines. India and ASEAN also share the strong academic and research ties. Various Indian universities such as IIT-Delhi and Tezpur University host students from the ASEAN partner countries. India also launched 1000 ASEAN PhD Fellowships for ASEAN citizens. Further, the National Education Policy 2020 will also bring opportunities for India as well the entire world.

ASEAN-INDIA Hackathon

The ASEAN-INDIA Hackathon initiative is undertaken by the Ministry of Education. In the year 2021, the hackathon is being organized online from February 1 to 3, 2021. The hackathon will offer new opportunities for all the 10 ASEAN countries and India to strengthen their economic and cultural ties by collaborating into the fields of education, science and technology.

The Fifteenth Finance Commission of India have submitted its final report fir a five-year duration. The report has been submitted with the objective of transforming the financial governance of India’s municipalities.

Background

Key Highlights of the report

  1. The 15th FC has tried to increase the overall outlay for municipalities. It has set 29,000 crores for FY 2020-21. It has also indicated the intent to raise the share of municipalities in the total grants of local bodies from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
  2. Two entry conditions have been set for any municipality in India to receive FC grants namely, the publication of audited annual accounts that would help in boosting the financial accountability and notification of floor rates for property tax that would help in raising the revenue enhancement.
  3. The 15th finance commission has adopted the approach of distinguishing between million-plus urban agglomerations and other cities.
  4. It also recommends a common digital platform for municipal accounts, a consolidated view of municipal finances and the sectoral outlays at the state level apart from digital footprint of individual transactions at source.

These four aspects of the interim report highlight that the 15th finance commission aims to bring the logical culmination municipal finance reforms. However, the foundation for bringing about these reforms were also laid by thirteenth and fourteenth finance commission.

The Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, have proposed no change in the Income Tax Slabs in the Union Budget 2021. The income tax structure has been kept as earlier. However, some relief have been announced for the senior citizens. It was announced that the senior citizens above the age of 75 years will exempted from filing the income tax return.

Key Highlights

Announcement regarding the Custom Duty

Further, the finance minister announced that, the reassessment of the tax cases will be opened for 10 years if there is evidence of concealment of income of Rs. 50 lakh or more on a year. In other cases, the reopening of the assessment will be for 3 years.

The finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced during the presentation of the Union Budget 2021 that a new asset reconstruction and asset management company will be set up in India.

Key facts

What is Non-performing Asset?

The Non-Performing Asset are the asset for which any person delays the payment of the loan. It is the asset for which an amount is due on him by delayed payment.

Non-Performing Assets in India

The Indian Economy witnessed a huge growth during 2004 to 2009. This made the firms to take the bank loans very often. Huge investments were made in the infrastructure sector like powers, aviation, roads and steel. But the banks were lending these companies without analysing their financial health and credit ratings. This later increased the burden on the banks. Further, there were instances of banning of the mining projects and delay in environment permit. This increased the prices of the raw materials.  As a result, a huge demand and supply gap was created that affected the infrastructure companies. This in turn impacted the loan repaying capacity of the companies and resulted into Non-Performing Assets (NPA).

Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs)

In order to tackle the problem of NPA, Asset reconstruction Companies were set up. Asset Reconstruction Companies are the specialized financial institution that buys the NPAs or bad assets from banks and financial institutions. This help in clear the balance sheet of the companies. These companies were set up under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.  Under the norms, the banks were free to sell the bad assets to the ARCs rather than going after the defaulters.

The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has announced in the Budget 2021 that the government have planned to reduce the compliances for one person companies (OPC). This would help in promotion of the entrepreneurship and innovation in India.

Highlights

How this announcement is significant?

Start-ups in India

The Indian government has recognised some41,061 start-ups in India, as of now. This sector is growing rapidly in India with the emergence of more and more unicorns in the market. There are around 38 unicorns in India and at least 12 start-ups were added to the list in the year 2020.

The Finance minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced a Rupees 3.05 trillion electricity distribution reform programme while presenting the Union Budget 2021.

Highlights

Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana

Why this scheme has been launched?

Power DISCOMs are the weakest link in the electricity value chain. They usually face the challenges like low collection, inadequate tariff hikes, increase in power purchase costs and subsidy disbursements.  The government data says that, the aggregate loss for the DISCOMs sector in the year 2018-19 was ₹85,000 crore. Thus, this scheme has been proposed in order to help DISCOMs to raise funds.

The Finance minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, have proposed for the “Voluntary Vehicle Scrappage Policy”. This proposal was made during the presentation of the Union Budget for Financial Year 2022. The voluntary vehicle scrappage policy will help to scrap out the unfit and pollution-causing vehicles.

Highlights

Background

Significance

The government have announced the policy with the viewpoint that, this scrappage policy will encourage the sales of new vehicles. Automotive manufacturers are also exploring the vehicle scrappage options. This might create ways to develop a separate industry which in turn will generate more employment opportunities.

The two-auto industry executes have recently highlighted that the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will gain most from a government proposal to levy a green tax on petrol and diesel vehicles.

Highlights

Green Tax on Vehicles

The Road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced to impose a green tax on a certain category of vehicles starting from April 1, 2022. The government has proposed that a green tax could be levied on personal vehicles at the time of renewal of registration certificate. It will be levied after 15 years equivalent to 10-25% of the road tax of a petrol or diesel vehicle. Similar tax would also be levied on transport or commercial vehicles which are older than eight years at the time of renewal of the registration certificate and the fitness certificate.

How Maruti will benefit from the Green tax?

Under the Green tax norms, the Hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and those vehicles that runs on cleaner alternative fuels like CNG, ethanol and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will be exempted from the green tax. Higher taxes will be implied on the petrol or diesel vehicles. Higher tax on Petro and diesel cars will force people to shift to CNG. This in turn, will benefit the companies like Maruti and Hyundai. Further, the companies and dealers can use the green cess and increased purchase cost as a marketing strategy so as to induce customers to buy CNG vehicles.

The Textiles Minister of India, Smriti Irani, inaugurated the 8th India International Silk Fair on the Virtual Portal.

Highlights

Silk in the India

Background

The cultivation of silk, or Sericulture, date back to the Indus valley Civilization between 2450 BC to 2000 BC.  In the Harappa and Chanhu-daro sericulture was employing wild silk threads from the native silkworm species. Indus silks were obtained from species called Antheraea and Philosamia (eri silk).

Eri silk

Eri silk is found in northeast India and some parts of China and Japan. In 1974, it was imported to Thailand. This is a woolly white silk and is often referred to as the fabric of peace since it is processed without killing the silkworm.

Tassar silk

It is produced from larvae of several species of silkworms living in the wild forests in trees. The silk is valued for its rich texture and natural deep gold colour. It is produced in China, Japan, India, and Sri Lanka.

The Bangladesh Authorities recently moved around 1,750 Rohingya Muslims to a controversial island in the Bay of Bengal called the “Bhashan Char Island”. This move by Bangladesh was opposed by the refugees already living on the island.

About Bhashan Char

The island is also known as Char Piya. It is in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh. The island is located in the Bay of Bengal at about 6 kilometres from Sandwip island and 60 kilometres from the mainland. It has an area of 40 square kilometres.

How the island was formed?

The island was formed in the year 2006 by Himalayan silt.

Recent development by Bangladesh on Island

Cox’s Bazar

It is a city, fishing port, tourism centre and district headquarters of the southern Bangladesh. This city is famous for long natural sandy beach. It is also known as the Panowa.

Sandwip island

It is an island along the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh in Chittagong District. The island is a part of Sandwip Upazila.

Rohingya people

They are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who follow Islam. They reside in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Around 1.4 million Rohingyas lived in Myanmar until a displacement crisis of 2017 when 740,000 fled to Bangladesh. They are called as the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are denied citizenship under the 1982 Myanmar nationality law.  They do not have the freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs in Myanmar.

The government has decided to include 14 new minor forest produce items under the mechanism for marketing of minor forest produce by the minimum support price scheme.

Highlights

Minimum Support Price (MSP)

Background

The Minimum Support Price was announced for the first time in the year 1966-67 for wheat. The MSP was decided in the light of Green Revolution and extended harvest in order to save the farmers from depleting profits.

Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

It includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin. It also includes bamboo, fodder, leaves, canes, waxes dyes, gums, resins and many forms of food like nuts, honey wild fruits, lac, tusser etc. MFP It provides both subsistence and cash income for people living in or near the forests.

MFP through MSP scheme

It is a centrally sponsored scheme. The scheme ensure that the tribal population gets remunerative price for the MFP and seeks to provide them alternative employment avenues. The mechanism for marketing of minor forest produce through minimum support price and development of value chain for MFP’ scheme is done by the State designated agencies. To assure the market price, the services of market correspondents are availed by the designated agencies.

The United Nations counter terrorism chief have asked the countries to repatriate the 27,000 children who are stranded in massive camp in north-eastern Syria. Many of the children are sons and daughters of Islamic State extremists who controlled the large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

What are the concerns?

Al Hol or al-Hawl refugee camp

Syrian civil war

It is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria. The war is fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic which is led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and various domestic and foreign forces who are opposing both the Syrian government and each other. This unrest in Syria was started on March 15, 2011 as part of the wider 2011 Arab Spring protests. This was escalated  because of the discontent with the Syrian government.

About Syria

History

The country was the centers of Neolithic culture or the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A in 10000 BC. It was the first country in the world where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time.