Daily Current Affairs - 01-07-2021

Andhra Pradesh government has launched its new ‘AP Information Technology Policy 2021-24’ on June 30, 2021.

Key Points

State’s Revenue

Andhra Pradesh will earn a revenue of Rs 783 crore in 10 years in the form of various taxes through this policy. Direct employment is also expected to infuse over Rs 2,200 crore year. It will thus lead to overall growth of economy through multiplier effect.

Key provisions of new IT Policy

New IT Policy links the incentive disbursement to realisation of committed direct employment which ensures transparent & effective utilisation of public funds. It offers end-to-end support for start-ups like plug & play office space, access to investors, & mentors, funds through venture capitals and private equity firms.

How it will be implemented?

Under the policy, government will establish incubation centers and organise hackathons & workshops for startups. Government will also establish an IT Emerging Technologies Research University in Visakhapatnam in order to develop State as leading contributor to national talent pool in IT & other emerging technologies.

Union Finance Ministry has decided to issue certificates of appreciation to over 54,000 GST payers.

Why certificates will be issued?

Background

GST had subsumed 17 local levies such as excise duty, service tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) and 13 cesses. It was implemented on July 1, 2017. Thus, to mark the completion of 4 years of GST, it was decided to honour tax payers who have been a part of GST success story.

Data analytics exercise

Data analytics exercise was undertaken by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs in order to identify taxpayers who have made substantial contribution to GST in cash as well as filed for returns on time. About 54,439 taxpayers have been identified.

Who are those taxpayers?

About 88 per cent of the selected taxpayers are MSMEs, 36 % are micro, 41 % small and 11 percent medium enterprises who were involved in supply of goods and services. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) will issue certificates of appreciation to these taxpayers.

Who will send these certificates?

Goods and services tax networks (GSTN) will send out certificates of appreciation to individual taxpayers by e-mail.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a Rs 3.03 trillion power distribution company (DISCOM) reform scheme on June 30, 2021. Under the scheme, Centre’s share will be about Rs 97,631 crore.

About DISCOM reform scheme

It is a reforms-based result-linked power distribution sector scheme. It will be applicable till 2025-2026. It was announced in union budget 2021. This scheme subsumes programmes like Integrated Power Development Scheme and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. Scheme comprise of a compulsory smart metering ecosystem along the distribution sector, from electricity feeders to consumer level.  It included some 250 million households.

Funds provisions

Under the scheme, funds will be released to DISCOM and will be subject to them to meet reform-related milestones.

Who will implement the scheme?

State-run Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) have been nominated as nodal agencies to implement the scheme.

Why this scheme was launched?

This scheme was launched in order to improve operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of all DISCOMs or Power Departments. However, it does not include Private Sector DISCOMs. Financial sustainability will be provided to them on conditional basis in order to strengthen supply infrastructure. Financial assistance will be based on meeting a pre-qualifying criterion and upon achievement of a basic minimum benchmarks by DISCOM.

Aim of the scheme

Scheme was launched with the aim of bringing down India’s average aggregate technical and commercial loss to 12-15 % from current level of 21.4%. It also seeks to narrow deficit between cost of electricity and price at which it is supplied to zero by the year 2024-25. It will also provide reliability and quality of power supply.

Tech Giant, Google released its Transparency report on June 30, 2021 in compliance with the IT rules.

Key points of Transparency report

How report will be published?

According to google, to allow sufficient time for data processing and validation, it will maintain a two-month lag for reporting. In upcoming reports, data on removals as a result of automated detection and data related to impersonation and graphic sexual content complaints will also be included.

What does new IT rules say?

According to New IT rules, digital platforms with over 5 million users are required to publish periodic compliance reports every month.

New IT Rule

Central government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 in February 2021. This rule deals with social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Rules were framed under section 87 (2) of Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. As per new rules, resident grievance officer will be appointed under grievance redressal mechanism and content on social media platforms will be monitored actively. Social media platforms are required to publish monthly compliance reports for Indian users. Also, authorities in India can ask these platforms to identify origin of any message

According to Tesla and SpaceX chief executive, Elon Musk, Starlink was on track to provide global internet coverage. Starlink has over 70,000 users across 12 countries, presently.

Key Points

What is Starlink?

Starlink is high-speed, low latency broadband internet which delivers initial beta service domestically as well as internationally. It is a satellite internet constellation, constructed by SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access across the world. Internet constellation comprises of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). These satellites communicate with designated ground transceivers. The cost of project to design, build and deploy constellation was estimated to be at least US$10 billion.

SpaceX satellite development facility

This facility has been established in Redmond, Washington to house Starlink research, development, manufacturing and orbit control teams.

Background

Development of product was started in 2015. Two of its prototype test-flight satellites were launched in February 2018. In May 2019, more test satellites and 60 operational satellites were deployed.

SpaceX’s Capacity

SpaceX can launch up to 60 satellites in one go. It aims to deploy 1,584 of 260 kg spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022. It started a private beta service in Northern United States in August 2020 and public beta in October 2020.

As per data released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India has reported a current account surplus of 0.9 per cent of GDP in the Financial Year 2021 (FY21) amid the covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, it has reported current account deficit of 0.9 per cent in FY20.

Key findings of report

FDI and FPI

Net FDI was USD 2.7 billion during March quarter of 2021 as compared to USD 12 billion in 2020. Net foreign portfolio investment (FPI) increased by USD 7.3 billion. Net external commercial borrowings to India decreased to USD 6.1 billion.

According to the report by UNCTAD and UN’s World Tourism Organisation (WTO), International tourism arrivals are set to stagnate in 2021, except in some Western markets.

Key findings of report

Three scenarios for 2021

Report has set three scenarios for 2021, showing international tourism arrivals forecast to decrease by 63% to 75% from pre-pandemic levels. It will cause losses of about $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

UNWTO is a United Nations specialized agency to promote responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It is headquartered in Madrid, Spain. UNWTO is the leading international organization in the area of tourism, promoting tourism as the driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability. It offers tourism sector leadership and support in order to enhance knowledge and tourism policies across the world. It encourages implementation of Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in a bid to maximize contribution of tourism to socio-economic development. Official languages of UNWTO include Chinese, Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

A new Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) rule is coming into effect from July 1, 2021.

What are those new rules?

Who will enforce these rules?

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has introduced a utility tool called Compliance Check for Section 206 AB & 206 CCA, to enforce these new rules. This tool will ease compliance burden of tax deductions who will use this functionality to identify non-filers. This functionality is already functioning on reporting portal of income tax department.

Benefits of the tool

Tax deductor would be able to conduct a single PAN (permanent account number) search or bulk search with the help of Compliance check tool. For a single search, deductor can get income tax return filing information about specific person on portal. This information can be downloaded in PDF format. Tax deductor can also get bulk search involving multiple PANs. To enable this service, tax deductors & collectors would be required to check functionality of PAN of vendor from whom TDS is to be deducted.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) have partnered to introduce a financial literacy curriculum for students of Class VI.

Financial Literacy Textbook

Another course by NPCI

NPCI is also been working on course content development with CBSE for Standard 7 and 8.

What was the need?

The new education policy (NEP) emphasizes on need of nurturing a digital mindset among students. This book will help in meeting this objective of NEP.

Purpose of Textbook

This textbook focuses on overall digital payment system. It is a small module on financial literacy which will educate students on finance from an early age. It stresses on growth of money and refers to Skills Root.

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved for revised implementation strategy of BharatNet under Public Private Partnership mode on June 30, 2021.

Key Points

Which states will be covered?

States covered under Cabinet approval include Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. About 3.61 lakh villages including Gram Panchayats will be covered.

BharatNet PPP Model

PPP Model will leverage efficiency of Private Sector for operation, maintenance, utilization and revenue generation. It is expected to result in faster roll out of BharatNet. Selected Private Sector Partner is expected to provide reliable, high speed broadband services in accordance with pre-defined Services Level Agreement (SLA).  Extension of BharatNet across all inhabited villages with reliable, quality, high speed broadband will help in accessing better e-services offered by Central and State Government agencies.  It will be easy to assess online education, telemedicine, skill development and e-commerce etc.

Advantages of BharatNet PPP Model

  1. It will enable use of innovative technology by Private Sector Provider to consumers
  2. It will provide high quality service and Service Level to consumers
  3. It will bring about Faster deployment of network & quick connectivity for consumers
  4. A system of Competitive tariffs for services will be enabled.
  5. It will provide services on high-speed broadband including OTT services and multi-media services.
  6. It will be easy access to all online services.

Ministry of Shipping launched the maiden voyage under Green Freight Corridor-2 on June 30, 2021.

Key points

Why voyage service was launched?

First voyage service was launched in line with ministry’s plans to improve connectivity and synergies between major & non-major ports by promoting coastal trading. This step is also aiming to

  1. Create intermodal & sustainable customer solutions,
  2. Improve use of waterways,
  3. Cut road & rail traffic and
  4. Cut logistical expenditures.

About the first Voyage Service

First voyage was inaugurated by MoS Mansukh Mandaviya. It was inaugurated under the service operated by Mumbai-based Round the Coast Pvt Ltd. This newly launched service will connect Cochin with Beypore-Azhikkal in the initial phases while Kollam ports in Kerala in later phases. Vessels will ferry load from Cochin to Beypore and Azhikkal twice in a week.

What commodities would be ferried?

Service would be used to ferry commodities like rice, salt, wheat, construction material, cement and other from Gujarat to Cochin port. From Cochin port further transportation will be carried to other Kerala ports by waterways. While returning voyage will ferry commodities like plywood, textiles, coffee, footwear.

Cochin Port or Kochi Port

It is a major port on Arabian Sea, Laccadive Sea & Indian Ocean sea-route in Kochi city of Kerala. It is one of the largest ports in India. It is also the first transhipment port of India. It lies on two islands in Lake of Kochi namely Willingdon Island and Vallarpadam. International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) (part of Cochin Port) is the largest container transhipment facility in India.

According to a report released by “Coalition for Negative Emissions (CNE) & McKinsey”, Projects in development will remove only some fraction of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from air to meet the 2025 climate change goal.

Highlights

Key findings of report

Concerns

Scaling up the technology would lead to lower costs and an average cost of 30-100 pounds per tonne of CO2 removed by 2050. Removal technology is expensive. Many countries have initiatives in place to put price on CO2 emissions nut prices are far too low to incentivise new projects.

Negative Emission Projects

As per report, negative emission projects include-

  1. Bioenergy with technology capture & storage carbon emissions,
  2. Technology to directly capture & store emissions from air and
  3. Natural climate solutions such as afforestation.

Facebook has announced to launch its new publishing tool called Bulletin with the aim of promoting independent writers. Bulletin would help and support these independent creators in United States.

Key points

How Bulletin will work?

About Facebook

Facebook is an American multinational conglomerate, founded by Mark Zuckerberg. It is based in Menlo Park, California. It was founded originally as “TheFacebook.com”. It is a global social networking service and one of the world’s most valuable companies. It is among Big Five companies of U.S. along with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. It has acquired Instagram, WhatsApp, Giphy, Oculus, and Mapillary. It also has a 9.9% stake in Jio Platforms.

NITI Aayog has recommended privatisation of state-owned insurer United India Insurance coverage (UIIC).

Key Points

Concerns

Background

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in Budget speech of 2021 about central government’s plan of privatizing two PSBs in fiscal year 2021-2021 along with one general insurance company.

United India Insurance Company Limited (UIIC)

UIIC was incorporated as Company on February 18, 1938. In India, General Insurance Business was nationalized in 1972. Under the nationalisation process, UIIC subsumed 12 Indian Insurance Companies, 4 Cooperative Insurance Societies, Indian operations of 5 Foreign Insurers and General Insurance operations of southern region of Life Insurance Corporation of India.

Function of UIIC

It provides insurance coverage ranging from bullock carts to satellites. Company is a pioneer in taking Insurance to rural masses with large level implementation of Universal Health Insurance Programme by central government and schemes like Vijaya Raji Janani Kalyan Yojana Tsunami Jan Bima Yojana & National Livestock Insurance etc.