Daily Current Affairs - 02-01-2021

The Government of India recently announced that the benefits of RoDTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products) scheme is to be extended to all goods.

What is RoDTEP Scheme?

The RoDTEP Scheme was launched in 2020 to boost exports of India in International markets. Under the scheme, a mechanism will be created for reimbursement of levies, taxes or duties at central, state and local levels. Prior to the scheme, the reimbursements were not done under any mechanism.

Which scheme was replaced by RoDTEP Scheme?

Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). It was introduced to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in exporting goods that are produced in India.

Why was Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) replaced with RoDTEP Scheme?

The MEIS was not WTO-compliant.

How is RoDTEP Scheme WTO-compliant?

The RoDTEP Scheme will coordinate with the World Trade Organization to reduce the post production transaction costs for the exporters. In order to achieve this, the RoDTEP Scheme implementation measures must provide production-oriented processes. This is in accordance to WTO rules. This will help to boost the production of MSMEs.

Also, under the scheme the indirect taxes are consumed in production process. This is also consistent with WTO. In simple words, according to WTO principles, indirect taxes on exports shall be reimbursed to boost the exports.

What are the benefits of RoDTEP Scheme?

Under the RoDTEP Scheme, the exporters of India will meet international standards for exports. This will boost the value of Indian products in the international market. It is being achieved through certification and affordable testing that will be provided under the scheme rather than relying on international organizations.

By replacing MEIS, the RoDTEP Scheme created an automated route for the Input Tax Credit. The Input Tax Credit is provided to set off the taxes paid on purchase of consumables, raw materials that are used in the manufacturing goods and services. Therefore, it helps to avoid double taxation.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently fined the Reliance Industries Limited and its Managing Director Mukesh Ambani. SEBI also fined two other entities. The fine was imposed for carrying out manipulative trade in Reliance Petroleum Limited.

What was the fine imposed on Reliance by SEBI?

SEBI imposed Rs 25 crores on Reliance India Limited and Rs 15 crores on its Managing Director Mukesh Ambani. Besides Reliance, the Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Navi Mumbai SEZ have been ordered to pay a fine of Rs 10 crores and Rs 20 crores respectively.

Why was the fine imposed on Reliance by SEBI?

The fine was imposed on Reliance India Limited because the company violated the Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices (PFUTP).

In 2017, SEBI observed that Reliance along with 12 other unlisted trading houses carried out unlawful transactions in the shares of Reliance Petroleum Limited. They first bought the shares of Reliance Petroleum Limited (RPL) in 2007.  They then took short positions, that is, bets that the share prices of RPL will fall.

Later RIL sold 4.1% its stake in RPL. This brought down the prices of the shares. Eventually RIL won its bets making huge profits.

The bets were placed before starting to sell the shares of RPG in the share market. Technically shares were first sold in future market and then in spot market.

What are the accusations of SEBI in simple words?

In simple words, bets were first placed and later actions were carried out accordingly to win the bet. This is unjust according to PFUTP as the other shareholders are losing fraudulently and at the benefit of RIL.

What is Manipulative Trading?

The actions of the RIL in the case of RPL is called Manipulative Trading. It refers to artificially inflating or deflating the shares in the market. It also refers to influencing the behaviour of the market for personal gain.

Argentina recently became the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion.

What are the key features of new Argentina abortion law?

Under the new law Argentina has legalised abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. In India, abortion is legal till 24th week of pregnancy according to medical termination of pregnancy (Amendment) act, 2020. Earlier it was 20 weeks.

Why is the new Abortion law of Argentina considered historic?

The new abortion laws of Argentina is considered historic because prior to the passing of the bill abortions were permitted only in cases of rape or he’ll help. The activist of Argentina have been campaigning for a new law to overturn this rule since 1921.

 How will the new abortion law help the women of Argentina?

Prior to the new law the women and girls were forced to turn towards unsafe and illegal procedures. The scope of access to safe medical procedures of abortion was even narrower to the women from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to human rights watch, abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality in Argentina. Such was the ill effects of unsafe illegal abortion in the country.

What are the impacts of Argentina Abortion laws?

The passage of this law will have huge impact in other Latin American countries. Currently abortions are illegal in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Dominic Republic. In some countries such as Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana, women can request for abortion only in specific cases. Some of these countries even have imprisonment as punishment to illegal abortion.

Why did Abortion laws face obstacles in Argentina?

The Catholic Church and the Evangelical community in Argentina hold immense power and influence in the country. These communities strongly opposed the concept of abortions and steps taken to legalise abortions.

The cabinet of Punjab recently approved the Punjab state data policy. The policy aims to track progress and provide citizens access to services. With this Punjab has now become the first state in India to formulate a comprehensive data policy.

What is Punjab State data policy?

The Punjab state data policy will leverage data and technology to optimize Service Delivery and citizen access. It will also increase the participation of citizens through user friendly and secure e-governance systems.

What are the key features of Punjab state data policy?

What are the other approvals made by the cabinet?

The Punjab Cabinet also approved to create new block Patiala (rural) and ensure all round development in the villages falling under it. The new block will include 26- and 32-Gram Panchayat of Patiala and Nabha block respectively.

Amendments to Punjab Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1966 were also approved.  The rules were remanded to maintain high ethical standards of honesty and integrity by public servants and professor bit sexual harassment of working women. This has been done in line with Central Civil Services (conduct) Rules, 1964 and All India Service (conduct) rules.

The Australian Government recently announced certain changes to its National Anthem “Advance Australia Fair”.

What were the changes made to Australian National Anthem?

The second line of the National Anthem has been changed from ‘For we are young and free’ to ‘For we are one and free.’

What was the issue with the National Anthem of Australia?

The Australian National Anthem, “Advance Australia Fair” was written in 1878. It became official National Anthem of Australia only in 1984. According to the critics, the words “for we are young and free” destroy the 50,000 years of history of Australia. The word young imply that the Australian history started only with Colonisation. Accordingly, it is believed that the national anthem celebrates British colonisation. This is unacceptable by the indigenous communities of the island nation who till date celebrate Australia Day as Invasion Day.

What is Australia Day?

The Australia Day is celebrated on January 26. It marks the date when the “First Fleet” sailed into Sydney in 1788. This fleet carried troops from Britain.

When was the last change made to the Australian National Anthem?

1984.

Who composed Australian National Anthem?

The National Anthem of Australia was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick.

Who are the indigenous people of Australia?

The indigenous people make up to only 2.4% of the Australian population. The indigenous population of Australia is made of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What are the other issues with the National Anthem of Australia?

The National Anthem is also criticised for its fourth line of the anthem. That is, the fourth line, “Our Home is girt by sea”. This line is criticised for using the word “Girt”. According to the critics the word is archaic and impossible to understand.

What was the previous National Anthem of Australia?

Prior to “Advance Australia Fair”, “God Save the Queen” was the national anthem of Australia. It was the national anthem in number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown dependencies. The commonwealth realms were sovereign states that had Elizabeth II as its Head of the state.

The Assam assembly recently passed the Assam Ease of Doing Business (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill makes amendments to the Assam ease of doing business act, 2016. The amendment will avail 0.25% additional borrowing from the centre.

What are the key features of Assam Ease of Doing Business (Amendment) Bill, 2020?

What is Assam Ease of Doing Business Act?

How does Assam Ease of Doing Business Act facilitate doing business in the state?

After an application is received, the system will automatically forward it to the competent authority. The system will then handover hard copies such as applications to the concerned officer of the competent authority. The officer is responsible to get clearance within the stipulated time frame. Also, the system will generate a report to the Bureau about the status of applications received, pending, disposal and the reasons for pending on monthly basis.
Therefore, the act has created a monitoring mechanism and a tracking mechanism to facilitate ease of doing business in the state.

The Uttar Pradesh Government is to launch Kisan Kalyan mission.

What are the key features of Kisan Kalyan mission?

What is the role of Kisan Vigyan Kendras in Kisan Kalyan Mission?

The Kisan Kalyan mission is to deploy the experts of Krishi Vigyan Kendras. These experts are to share their knowledge on advanced techniques of farming and how to increase income of farmers. Krishi Vigyan Kendras are agricultural centres that focus on agricultural research in practical and localised setting. These centres are linked to Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

 What are the activities undertaken by Kisan Kalyan mission?

What is Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan?

The Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan was launched in 2018 by the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers welfare. It aims to help farmers in improving their farming techniques. The objectives and intention of Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan is same as that of Kisan Kalyan Mission.

What is the main difference between Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan and Kisan Kalyan Mission?

This Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan is being implemented by the central government.  On the other hand, the Kisan Kalyan Mission is implemented by UP State Government. The Kisan Kalyan Abhiyan has chosen 112 aspirational districts in the country. The aspirational districts with more than thousand population have been selected. The factor of aspirational district in absent in Kisan Kalyan Mission of UP Govt.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas recently announced that more than 14 crores of free of cost cylinders have been provided under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to the beneficiaries of the scheme during covid-19 crisis.

What is the current scenario of prices of LPG in India?

The price of non-subsidised Liquefied Petroleum Gas cylinders of 14.2 kg is to remain at 694 rupees per cylinder. The commercial customers will have to pay an additional amount of 17 rupees per cylinder. Also, the new rate of 19-kilogram LPG cylinder in Delhi has increased to 1349 rupees as compared to the previous price of 1332 rupees. In Kolkata the price has increased by 23 rupees and in Chennai the prices have increased by 17 rupees.

What is the reason behind the recent LPG price rise?

The Oil marketing companies revise the prices of gas cylinders on the first day of every month. The price revise is based on the international market rates. The recent price rise is due to changes in international price changes.

How are LPG prices fixed in India?

The LPG pricing in India is done on the basis of Import Parity Price. The Import Parity price is determined based on LPG prices in the international market. It is based on LPG prices of Aramco of Saudi Arabia. It also includes free on-board prices, custom duty, Ocean freight charges, insurance, port dues, etc. The retail selling price of the non-subsidised LPG cylinder include the cost of Inland right, GST, bottling charges, marketing costs and margins charged by the Oil Companies, dealer Commission.

Therefore, a weak performing rupee will also lead to higher prices of LPG in India. The current price rise in the recent past few months is due to this reason.

What is Import Parity Price?

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, the Import Parity Price is the price at the border of a goods being imported. It includes International transport cost and tariffs.

The Subject Expert committee that is advising the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) recommended restricted Emergency Use Authorisation for COVISHIELD. COVISHIELD vaccine was developed by Serum Institute of India.

Who manufactures COVISHIELD?

The COVISHIELD the vaccine is developed by the University of Oxford and the British Pharmaceutical major Astra Zeneca. In India, the vaccine is to be made and marketed by Pune Serum Institute of India.

How does the COVISHIELD vaccine work?

The COVISHIELD vaccine uses harmless virus to transport genetic material in order to trigger the immune response to the COVID-19 virus.

How does COVISHIELD vaccine differ from the others?

The COVAXIN of Bharat Biotech is a whole virus inactivated vaccine. The vaccine developed by Pfizer takes messenger RNA approach. It Transforms the the human body cells into vaccine making factories.

Who conducted the COVISHIELD the trials in India?

The COVISHIELD trials in India were conducted by the Serum Institute of India.

How were the trials of COVISHIELD conducted in India?

Around 1600 volunteers were injected with the vaccine during the COVISHIELD trials in India.

What were the concerns raised from COVISHIELD trials?

One serious adverse event with neurological disorder was reported in Chennai after COVISHIELD trials.

What is the dosage of COVISHIELD vaccine?

Two full doses of COVISHIELD vaccine are to be given in India.

How many covid-19 doses will India need to vaccinate its essential service workers?

India will need 30 million doses of covid-19 vaccine to vaccinate the essential service workers including Healthcare professionals, police staff and Municipal staff.

 What is the current scenario of covid-19 vaccines in India?

Around 6 vaccines are under various stages of clinical trials in India. Of these four are being indigenously developed. The clinical trials of COVAXIN by the Bharat Biotech is under phase 3. Bharat Biotech is conducting the largest trials of COVID-19 vaccine. It is testing the vaccine on more than 26,000 volunteers.

The Vaccine of Zydus Cadila is under Phase II clinical trial. The Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is conducting the Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.

The Reserve Bank of India recently released the Digital Payments Index to measure the growth in cashless transactions in India.

What are the parameters of the Digital Payments Index?

The Digital Payments Index comprises of five broad parameters. These parameters have different weight to measure the penetration of digital payments in the country. The parameters of the Digital Payments Index and its penetration are as follows:

What are the sub parameters of Payment Enablers of Digital Payments Index?

The sub factors of the payment enablers of the Digital Payments Index comprises of internet, mobile, bank account, merchants and participants.

What are the sub parameters of Payment Infrastructure of Digital Payments Index?

The sub parameters for the Payment Infrastructure of Digital Payments Index comprises of credit card, prepaid payment instruments, debit card, point-of-sale terminals, quick response codes, automated teller machines.

 What are the sub parameters of Payment Performance of Digital Payments Index?

The Payment Performance carries the highest weightage in the Digital Payments Index. The Sub parameters of Payment Performance of Digital Payments Index are paper clearing, cash withdrawal rules, e volume and value of digital payments, unique users and currency in circulation.

What are the sub parameters considered under Consumer Centricity of Digital Payments Index?

The RBI would consider customer education and awareness, complaints, frauds, system declines under the consumer centricity of the Digital Payments Index.

What is the base year of Digital Payments Index of RBI?

The Reserve Bank of India has set the base year of Digital Payments Index as 2018.

What was the Digital Payments Index for the year 2019 and 2020?

The Digital Payments Index for the year 2019 was 153.47 and for that of 2020 was 207.84 respectively.

When will the Digital Payments Index be released?

The Reserve Bank of India is to publish the Digital Payments Index on a semi-annual basis from March 2021.

Why is the Digital Payments Index needed?

The digital payments in India have seen a rapid increase in adoption of digital platforms lately. According to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), in December 2020 around 223 crores of transactions worth 4.16 lakh crores of rupees were made as compared to that of 221 crores of transactions worth 3.9 lakh crores of rupees in November 2020. This clearly shows that the digital transactions in the country are increasing day by day. Therefore, it is essential to measure its growth and launch respective initiatives to support the growth.

China has recently deployed underwater drones called Sea Wing Glider in the Indian Ocean region. The Sea Wing Glider Drone is used for Naval surveillance. It can operate for months under the sea.

What is Sea Wing Glider Drone?

The Sea Wing Glider Drone is a type of an uncrewed underwater vehicle. It was launched in December 2019.

What are the other places where China has deployed Sea Wing Glider Drone?

Apart from Indian ocean region China has also deployed the Sea Wing Glider Drone in the Arctic Ocean. Also, these drones are deployed in South China Sea, East China Sea and other waters of the Western Pacific.

What is China’s stand in use of Sea Wing Glider Drone?

According to the Chinese, Sea Wing Glider Drones have been deployed for research and development purposes.

What are the intentions of Chinese with Sea Wing Glider Drones?

According to Defence ministry, around 14 Sea Wing Glider Drones have been deployed in the Indian Ocean region. Our only 12 are being used. They have been employed for long range missions.

With the help of Sea Wing Glider Drone the Chinese are gathering oceanography data in the Indian Ocean region. It gathers information such as salinity, seawater temperature, turbidity, oxygen content, chlorophyll and ocean current changes.

What are the concerns of GoI in regard to the Sea Wing Glider Drones?

The Sea Wing Glider Drones are capable of carrying acoustic sensors such as acoustic Doppler current profile sensor, hydrophones and underwater acoustic communication devices. According to the Government of India, the Chinese might use these drones to listen to Indian Naval communication and might track Indian Naval ships in the Indian Ocean region.

China has been increasing its presence in International waters in the name of research and development. According to India, with this the Chinese are trying to disturb the sovereignty of international waters. This is against the UNCLOS (United Nations convention for the Law of the Sea).

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently laid the foundation of the Light House Project in six states.

Where are the Light House Projects being implemented?

The Light House Projects are to be implemented in Agartala (Tripura), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) under the Global Housing Technology Challenge-India.

Which Ministry is to implement the Light House Project?

The Light House Project is to be implemented by Union Urban Ministry.

What are the Key Features of Light House Project?

What are the benefits of Light House Project project?

The main advantage of the project is that the duration and cost of construction is reduced.  The houses built under the Light House project will be completely earthquake resistant. They will be durable and environmentally friendly due to the use of pre-fabricated materials.

What are the advanced technologies to be used in Light House Project?

What is the cost of the Light House Project?

The cost of houses is Rs 12.59 lakh. Out of this, Rs 7.83 lakh will be provided by the Central Government and State Government. The rest of the 4.76 lakh rupees will have to be paid by the beneficiaries.

In 2017, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry asked the states and union territories to select six locations for the light house project under GHTC-India. As per the standards, the GoI announced to start the Light House Project in the 6 states and Union Territories that received the highest marks.

The Ministry of Defence recently signed an agreement with the Bharat Electronics Limited to supply ten LYNX U2 GFCS.

What is LYNX U2 GFCS?

It is a Naval Gun Fire Control System. It has been designed to track and engage targets amidst sea clutter. It can accurately track air and surface targets. Also, it can generate required target data to predict weapon aiming points. The target engagement is done using Russian A190, AK176 and AK630.

The Gunfire Fire Control System is designed with open and scalable architecture that permits simple and flexible implementation in different configurations.

How long has LYNX U2 GFCS been in service in the Indian Defence Force?

It has been in service in Indian Navy for more than two decades now. It has been meeting tactical requirements in the Indian Navy meeting the requirements of Indian Naval ships of different classes such as frigates, destroyers, missile boats, corvettes.

Where will the LYNX U2 GFCS being acquired from BEL be deployed?

The ten LYNX U2 GFCS being acquired from BEL is to be installed on Naval Offshore Patrolling Vessel Talwar and Teg class of ships.

What are the main features of LYNX U2 GFCS?

The system has servo and weapon control modules, tracking radars. It ensures maximum up-time. The current LYNX U2 GFCS proposed in the contract is of the fourth generation and is completely indigenized.

What is the aim of GoI in regard to the current LYNX U2 GFCS?

The LYNX U2 GFCS is to be acquired from BEL. This is developed in true spirit of Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). India has been trying to increase its domestic defence production lately. The agreement will help India in increasing its domestic production.

What is cost of LYNX U2 GFCS?

All the ten Lynx U2 Gun Fire control System are to be purchased from Bharat Electronics Limited at a cost of Rs 1,355 crores. It is to be purchased under Buy (Indian) Category.