Comprehensive News Analysis - 05 April 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Liquor drives State Highways to turn local

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Brexit’s shadow: India vows to deepen ties

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMICS

1. Confusion reigns on CAG audit of GST data

2. Nasscom sees ‘little impact’ of H-1B norms

ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. New tree-living crab species found in Kerala

D. GS4 Related:

1. Assets of IAS officer attached

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related
Category: POLITY

1. Liquor drives State Highways to turn local 

  • Back ground information: Supreme Court recently banned sale of liquors within 500 m of National and State Highways in order to prevent accidents caused due to drunken driving.
  • Circumvent the orders: States are now re –classifying State Highways into local roads.
    Eg: The Rajasthan government passed an order to convert a portion of their State Highway roads passing through populous areas into urban and district roads.

De-notifying Highways:

  • State government can issue a notification to convert State Highways into district roads.
  • De-notification of national highways can only be affected by the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

Implications of De-notifying National Highways:

  • Maintenance of National Highways burden will be passed on to state government.
  • Few states lack the capability and financial resources to take additional burden on them.

Key Governmental bodies and Reports supporting the ban:

    1. National Road Safety Council: had earlier in its meeting pitched in for banning granting license to open liquor bars along the national highways.
    2. Parliamentary mandate of zero tolerance for drunken-driving.
    3. Ministry of Road Transport and highways: In its various advisory notes to the states had advised to prevent accident happening due to drunken driving.

Basic information:

National Road Safety Council

  • Advisory body.
  • It was established under section 215 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 with the objective of improving road safety aspects in road transport sector.

Members

  • The Council is chaired by the Hon’ble Cabinet Minister of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH).
  • The official members of NRSC include the Ministers of State for MORTH, Minister-in-charge of Road Transport in States/UTs, representatives from Ministry of Home Affairs, Human Resource Development, Railways, Department of heavy Industry, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Secretary of MORTH, Chairman of National Highways Authority of India, Director General of Roads Development of MORTH and Joint Secretary (Transport).


Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Brexit’s shadow: India vows to deepen ties 

Highlights of 9th UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue between Finance Minister and U.K. Chancellor
  • Commitment to strengthen economic cooperation and collaborate on cross-border tax evasion and avoidance.
  • Both the side agreed to collaborate in determining the status of wealth deposited in foreign financial accounts by nationals of both countries.

Commendable moves from both the side:

  • National Highways Authority of India’s proposal to issue a masala bond in London .
  • IREDA’s plans to issue a green bond in London and list their masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange within six months.
  • Recent introduction of a fast-track investment promotion mechanism, which provides a single window for U.K. companies that are looking to either establish or expand their business in India.
  • Encouraging timely implementation of the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project outputs and called on other nations to meet their commitments.
  • The exchange of information between the U.K. and India under the Common Reporting Standards on Automatic Exchange of Tax Information will begin this calendar year.

Basic information:

What are Masala Bonds?

  • Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees, rather than the local currency.
  • Unlike dollar bonds, where the borrower takes the currency risk, masala bond makes the investors bear the risk.
  • Masala bonds will help to internationalize the Indian rupee and also deepen the Indian financial system.
  • By issuing bonds in rupees, an Indian company is shielded against the risk of currency fluctuation, typically associated with borrowing in foreign currency.
  • Cost of borrowing could also turn out to be lower than domestic markets.

What are Green Bonds?

  • Green bonds announces the purpose for raising the capital- to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, emission reductions and so on.
  • Green bonds typically carry a lower interest rate than the loans offered by the commercial banks and are not risky too, as the bonds are tied to the insurer and not the successful implementation of the projects. 

National Highway Authority of India

  • Autonomous agency of the Government of India
  • Responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India.
  • It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

IREDA: Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited

  • Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987 engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation.

BASE EROSION and PROFIT SHIFTING PROJECT OUTPUT:

Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations.

Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance

  • Tax evasion is the illegal evasion of taxes by individuals, corporations, and trusts. Tax evasion often entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability and includes dishonest tax reporting, such as declaring less income, profits or gains than the amounts actually earned, or overstating deductions.
  • In contrast, tax avoidance is the legal use of tax laws to reduce one’s tax burden. Both tax evasion and avoidance can be viewed as forms of tax noncompliance, as they describe a range of activities that intend to subvert a state’s tax system, although such classification of tax avoidance is not indisputable, given that avoidance is lawful, within self-creating systems
 
C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMICS

1. Confusion reigns on CAG audit of GST data 

What’s in news?

  • CAG is worried about how and from where its auditors should get access to GST data.

Why CAG needs this data?

  • To decide compensation for states and to determine States revenue share as per new GST norms.

Data required?

  • It requires access to data pertaining to revenue that would accrue to States from alcohol and petrochemicals (both outside the ambit of GST)

Who is collecting data in India with respect to tax matters?

  • GSTN

Why GSTN is not allowing access to the data?

  • GSTN has refused to give the CAG access to its network, saying it is only holding the data in a fiduciary capacity since the tax data originally belongs to the Centre and States.
  • GSTN is owned by a private company (51% stake in the company is held by private companies such as HDFC and ICICI Bank), and thus cannot be audited by CAG

CAG’s Counter argument

  • The CAG has pointed out in official communications in recent times that under the new Companies Act, GSTN can be counted as government-controlled company since its strategic control will be with the government. Like any PSU, the CAG could depute chartered accountants to audit GSTN

Herculean task for CAG

  • Accessing the data at various points — point of manufacture, point of sale etc. —would make the GST audit a complicated and almost impossible task, and will hamper other functions, which would include CAG certification about the share of GST for States.

Compensation to States

  • States will be given full compensation for the first five years for any shortfall in revenue because of GST.
  • The States’ revenue in 2015-16 will be used as the basis for calculating the compensation, with an assumption of 14% revenue growth in the subsequent five years.
  • The total revenue of a State would be the total of income of States and local bodies from sales tax, value added tax, purchase tax, central sales tax, octroi etc

Basic Information:

Goods and Services Tax Network, (GSTN)

  • GSTN is a non-Government, private limited company
  • The Government of India holds 24.5% equity in GSTN and all States of the Indian Union, including NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers (EC), together hold another 24.5%. Balance 51% equity is with non-Government financial institutions (private banking firm).

Aim

  • The Company has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). 

2. Nasscom sees ‘little impact’ of H-1B norms

Key Points:

  • Most IT firms applying for higher-gifted experts.
  • The nation’s head programming entryway, Nasscom, on Tuesday said the new approach update on H-1B visas by the U.S. “ought to have little effect” on its part organizations.
  • As the current year’s application procedure for H-1B visas started Monday, the U.S Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), the organization in charge of choosing the 85,000 H-IB recipients, declared a huge number of measures to take action against organizations that may abuse the program, including more stringent checks at locales where H-1B specialists are utilized.
  • Taking note of that part organizations give gifted ability and answers for U.S. organizations, the industry body stated, “The H-1B visa framework exists particularly as a result of the persevering deficiency of exceedingly gifted local IT ability in the U.S.,” and its individuals will keep on providing gifted ability and answers for fill that hole and keep U.S. organizations focused internationally.
  • It included that the extra proof demonstrating that the occupations themselves are mind boggling or concentrated and require proficient degrees specified by the update has been the accepted prerequisite for a considerable length of time.


Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. New tree-living crab species found in Kerala

What’s in news?

  • New species of long legged, tree- dwelling crabs New tree-living crab species found in Keralahave been discovered by Scientist in Western Ghats of Kerala.First of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab — a species that lives in trees.
  • The new species named Kani maranjandu after the Kani tribe in Kerala
  • These tree dwelling crabs are substantially different from other organisms of the same genus.

Distinct characteristic features

  • Structure of hard upper shell
  • Male abdominal structure and reproductive parts and diagnostic elongated walking legs.
  • Discovery stress the need for conservation of large trees in the degraded forest ecosystems of the Western Ghats.
 
D. GS4 Related

1. Assets of IAS officer attached

Who?

  • Babu Lal Agrawal, IAS – Principal Secretary in the Chhattisgarh government.

Why?

  • Use of shell companies to launder ill-gotten funds .

Previous Case:

  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Mr. Agrawal,in February  along with his brother-in-law and a middleman, for allegedly conspiring to bribe public servants for getting relief in two other cases registered by the agency against him in 2010.

Issues involved:

  • Corrupt- inflicting profound damages on society
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Treason
  • Conflict of interest
  • Probity in governance-Morality and Honesty.
Prelims worthy factual information

1. The Calicut International Kite Festival– Kerala to host first international kite festival at popular beaches in the city. International Kite Festival will be held in the second week of September, 2017 on Kozhikode beach.

2. Uttarayan Festival
International Kite festival held at Ahmadabad, Gujarat.
It is the sign for farmers that the sun is back and that harvest season is approaching which is called Makara Sankranti.
The idea of flying kites to celebrate Uttrayan was introduced by Muslims from Persia, today regardless of background or beliefs, everyone are welcomed to fly kite in Gujarat in January.

3. Berhampur: Berhmapur is a municipal corporation located on the eastern coastline of Ganjam district of the Indian state of Odisha in East India. It is one of the oldest and largest cities of Odisha. Nicknamed “The Silk City“, it is famous for its silk saris, temples and unique culture.

4. Sarin: Sarin, or GB (G-series, ‘B’), is a colorless, odorless liquid, used as a chemical weapon owing to its extreme potency as a nerve agent. It is generally considered a weapon of mass destruction. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed as of April 1997 by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.
It can be lethal even at very low concentrations, where death can occur within one to ten minutes after direct inhalation of a lethal dose, due to suffocation from lung muscle paralysis.

5. Gompas: Gompas, also known as ling (Wylie: gling), are Buddhist ecclesiastical fortifications of learning, a vihara and a university associated with Tibetan Buddhism and thus common in historical Tibetan regions including parts of China, India, Nepal, Ladakh and Bhutan.
Design and interior details vary from region to region; however, all follow a general sacred geometrical mandala design of a central prayer hall containing a murti or thangka, benches for the monks or nuns to engage in prayer or meditation and attached living accommodation. The gömpa or ling may also be accompanied by any number of stupas.
‘Gompa’ is an imprecise term used by westerners traveling in Tibetan regions to refer to a variety of religious buildings, generally correlating to what might be described as a church but including small temple buildings and other places of worship or religious learning.


E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
 
 
 
F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS 
BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article
 
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam:)
Question 1: Choose the correct statement with reference to Kani maranjandu 
which was in news recently.
  1. It is a tree dwelling crab species.
  2. It is a terrestrial crab species.
  3. The species is named after Kani tribe in Kerala.
  4. Both A and C
See
Answer
Question 2: Choose the correct statement/s from the below options with 
reference to Uttarayan Festival which was in news recently.
  1. It is an International Kite festival held at Ahmadabad.
  2. The idea of flying kites to celebrate Uttrayan was introduced by Muslims from Persia.
  3. Both a and b
  4. Neither a nor b
See
Answer
Question 3: What do you mean by Masala Bond?
  1. Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees.
  2. Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in US dollars.
  3. Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in UK dollars.
  4. None of the above.
See
Answer
Question 4: Consider the statements about Organisation for Economic 
Co-operation and Development(OECD):
  1. It is UN agency.
  2. It’s head quarter is at New York.

Which of the above statements is/are correct ?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None
See
Answer
Question 5: Sometimes Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) in news. 
What are they?
  1. Resolving NPA crisis in banking sector
  2. Tax avoidance strategy
  3. Free movement of skilled professional across countries
  4. Free movement of goods across countries
See
Answer

 

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