UPSC 2017-18: PIB Summary and Analysis Aug 31

UPSC 2017-18: PIB Summary and Analysis Aug 31 for IAS Exam Preparation

Vice President Greets People on the eve of Id-ul-Zuha

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has greeted the people on the auspicious occasion of Id-ul-Zuha.

Id-ul-Zuha symbolizes the spirit of sacrifice and compassion in our lives. The Festival inspires the mankind to enshrine the values of truthfulness and compassion in their day-to-day actions and conduct.

 

PM's fourth interaction with Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, on Wednesday met and interacted with a group of over 80 Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries serving in the Government of India. This was the fourth of five such interactions.

During the interaction, officers shared their experiences on subjects such as innovation and teamwork in governance, healthcare, health education, agriculture, water resources, e-governance, tax administration and GST, ease of doing business, grievance redressal, and child rights.

The Prime Minister urged the officers to work towards improving the processes of governance.  He said a human touch is essential for developing team spirit, which can deliver better collective results.

Highlighting the current positive global environment in favour of India, the Prime Minister asked officers to work with clear objectives towards creating a New India by 2022.

 

PSLV-C39 Flight Carrying IRNSS-1H Navigation Satellite Unsuccessful

The forty first flight of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C39), conducted today (August 31, 2017) evening from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, was unsuccessful. PSLV-C39 had a normal lift-off at 1900 hrs IST (7:00 pm) and all the flight events took place exactly as planned, except heat shield separation. This resulted in satellite separation occurring within the heat shield.

The satellite is inside the heat shield resulting in the unsuccessful mission. Detailed analysis is under progress to identify the cause of the anomaly in the heat shield separation event.

 

Northeast Venture Fund attracting young StartUps: Dr Jitendra Singh

Northeast Venture Fund offered by the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) is attracting young Start-Ups in more and more numbers and has generated huge enthusiasm among entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity in the North-Eastern region.

The Northeast Venture Fund is the first dedicated venture capital fund for North-Eastern region and the initiative to set it up began in April this year.

Prime Minister’s “Startup India, Standup India” is an incredible programme which includes unprecedented provisions and incentives like, for example, tax holiday in the early phase and an exit period of three months.

Added to this, the Ministry of DoNER is offering an additional benefit of providing the initial Venture Capital Fund to any youngster who decides to set up an entrepreneurship in the North-Eastern region.

“North-East Venture Fund” has been set up by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi), which already has the mandate to encourage entrepreneurship in the region primarily by offering support to the first-generation entrepreneurs. In addition, the NEDFi also performs the role of hand-holding and capacity building.

The region has huge potential for young Start-Ups unlike many other parts of the country and it is hoped that the unique idea of setting up a dedicated Venture fund will make up for the constraints faced by a youngster when he sets out to be on his own.

It is hoped that if the idea of Venture Fund supported StartUp entrepreneurship catches up, the day is not far when Northeast will become a favourite destination for young entrepreneurs and StartUps, not only from the Northeast region but from the whole of India.

 

Record production of horticulture crops in the country during 2016-17 is 
estimated to be around 300 million tones

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has released the Third Advance Estimates of Area and Production of Horticulture Crops for 2016-17. These estimates are based on the information received from different State/UTs in the country.

Highlights of the “Third Advance Estimates” for 2016-17

The record production of horticulture crops in the country during 2016-17 is estimated to be around 300 million tonnes which is 4.8% higher as compared to the previous year’s i.e. 2015-16 estimates.

The area under horticulture crops has increased from 24.5 million ha to 25.1 million ha in 2016-17, recording an increase of 2.6% over previous year.

Fruit production during the current year is estimated higher than the previous year.

Production of vegetables is estimated to be higher than the previous year.

Production of flowers, Aromatics & Medicinal Plants, Plantation crops (areca nut, cashewnut, cocoa and coconut), spices is estimated to be higher than the previous year.

 

Joint Proposal by India & China in WTO on Aggregate Measurement of 
Support (AMS)

Recently (on 18 July 2017) India and China jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) calling for the elimination – by developed countries – of the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies, known in WTO parlance as Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or ‘Amber Box’ support as a prerequisite   for consideration of other reforms in domestic support negotiations.

Context:

This is an important proposal by India and China in view of the ongoing negotiations for the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017. It counters the efforts by some countries to target the subsidies of the developing countries while letting the developed countries retain their huge farm subsidies.

Findings of the Joint Paper

The joint paper reveals that developed countries, including the US, the EU and Canada, have been consistently providing trade-distorting subsidies to their farmers at levels much higher than the ceiling applicable to developing countries. Developed countries have more than 90% of global AMS entitlements amounting to nearly US$ 160 bn. Most of the developing countries, including India and China, do not have AMS entitlements.

Asymmetry in the rules on Agricultural Trade

Listing the most heavily and frequently subsidised products by the US, the EU and Canada since 1995, the paper calls for elimination of such subsidies.

The numbers reveal that subsidies for many items provided by the developed world are over 50% and some even more that 100% of the value of production of the product concerned, while developing countries are forced to contain it within 10% of the value of production.

In other words, while developed Members have access to huge amount of AMS beyond their de minimis (these are the minimal amounts of domestic support that are allowed even though they distort trade — up to 5% of the value of production for developed countries, 10% for developing.) in contrast most developing Members have access only to de minimis resulting in a major asymmetry in the rules on agricultural trade.

Elimination of AMS is the starting point of reforms of WTO

The paper illustrates the adverse effects of concentration of AMS on a few products, which no other proposal in the WTO addresses.  Elimination of AMS, India and China believe, should be the starting point of reforms rather than seeking reduction of subsidies by developing countries, some of which like India provide a subsistence amount of about US $ 260 per farmer per annum compared to over 100 times more in some developed countries.

 

Environment Minister’s inaugural address at Business and Climate change 
Summit 2017

The following is the text of the address of the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, at the Business and Climate Summit (BCS) 2017.

The world came together in 2015 and agreed upon the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  It came into force in November 2016 and till date, 160 Parties have ratified the agreement.  India as a party to the Paris Agreement is committed towards its successful implementation.

It is also however, critical and necessary that equal focus is given to Pre-2020 actions by developed countries under Kyoto Protocol and that they fulfil their commitments of providing effective finance, technology transfer and capacity-building support to developing countries.

In order to strengthen Pre-2020 actions and close the emission gap, we also need to agree on a timeline for early ratification of the Second Commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  India deposited its instrument of acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on August 8, 2017.  UNFCCC should endeavour to promote developed country parties in fulfilling their commitments in the Pre-2020 period.

8 Goals of INDC

One of the key features of Paris Agreement is ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’.  India submitted its NDCs in 2015. 

It includes 8 goals, 3 of which are quantitative, including reducing the emissions intensity of our GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level; achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 and creating an additional sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. 

The other five goals pertain to healthy and sustainable lifestyle, climate friendly and clean path to economic development, building capacities on climate technology and mobilise domestic and new additional funds.

The steps taken by India to achieve our INDC

To achieve the goals, Government of India is implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which encompasses eight national missions representing multipronged, long-term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. 

The broad policy initiatives of the government are supplemented by actions of the State Governments through their State Action Plan on Climate Change.  Key sectors covered by SAPCCs include agriculture, water, habitat, forestry, health and disaster management among others.

Government of India has set an ambitious target of 175 GW renewable power installed capacity by the end of 2022 and we have already achieved 58.3 GW of renewable energy installed capacity so far.

There are a number of other initiatives including distribution of energy efficient appliances where we have distributed about 23.39 crores LED lights; Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to provide free clean cooking gas connections to women below poverty line where more than 2.8 crore  LPG connections have been released.

Through our missions like AMRUT and Smart Cities Mission, we are transforming our cities to make them efficient and climate resilient.

Government of India is also implementing its own National Adaptation Fund with a corpus of Rs. 350 crore.

However, with the responsibility of lifting around 360 million people out of poverty and raising the standard of living of an even greater number of people, technology is one of the powerful solutions for countries like India that can simultaneously address climate change and our development needs.

At the international level

At the international level, India launched the International Solar Alliance (ISA) jointly with Government of France. 

It provides a common platform where global community including bilateral and multilateral organisations, corporates, industry and stakeholders can make a positive contribution to the common goals of increasing utilisation of solar energy in meeting energy needs of ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner. 

So far, 36 countries have signed the ISA and 7 countries have ratified it.

Role of Private Sector

Private sector is an integral part of India’s action on climate change as well.  Private sector has embarked on a number of voluntary actions.  The Indian industry has participated in voluntary carbon disclosure programmes whereby they report their carbon management strategy and GHG emissions.

India is also planning to establish a voluntary carbon market with World Bank assistance with focus on uncovered areas.

Political will is necessary

Going forward, as political leaders and representatives of the people, we have major role and responsibilities towards the citizens of our country and the globe and a duty to think long-term.  We should listen to the voice of science seriously and act accordingly to safeguard our people against the risks posed by climate change.

Indian ethos of Environment Protection

Sustainability has been a way of life in India for centuries. Indian ethos and values promulgate simple living, respect for life and reverence of nature.  Irresponsible pursuit of extravagant lifestyle is slowly eroding traditional values and as a result, minimalist lifestyle, has started to ebb from people’s way of life.

Access to clean air, water and a liveable climate are inalienable human rights.  And solving this crisis is just not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation.  We have only one planet and humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home.  Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.

The global nature of climate change calls for a collective response.  India has been engaging actively in multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC, in a positive, constructive and forward-looking manner to establish an effective cooperation and equitable global approach, based on the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities & Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) enshrined in the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

As we move forward in our work on implementation of Paris Agreement, we believe that the incoming COP 23 Presidency of Fiji and UNFCCC Secretariat will host a successful meeting with an outcome, which is agreed upon by all Parties.”

 

Rajaswa Gyan Sangam, 2017 – Curtain Raiser

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) have been holding annual Conferences of senior officers for a number of years.

In 2016, for the first time, a joint Conference of the two Boards was held under the umbrella of “Rajaswa Gyan Sangam” which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

The objective of the Conference is to enable a two-way communication between the policy-makers and the senior officers in the field offices with a view to increase revenue collection and facilitate effective implementation of law and policies in key result areas.

 

Impact of Demonetisation on Black Money, Widening of Tax Base and Direct Tax Collections

The Government of India launched a concerted drive against black money with Demonetisation being an important step in that direction. Among the main objectives of Demonetisation was the flushing out of black money and also conversion of the non-formal economy into a formal economy to expand the tax base. The impact of Demonetisation on black money, widening of tax base and Direct Tax Collections is summed up hereunder:

Impact on black money

The Income Tax Department launched ‘Operation Clean Money’(OCM) on 31st January, 2017 to analyse the data of the persons who deposited large sums of cash and whose returns of income were not in sync with such deposits.

Impact on Widening of Tax-base

The number of e-returns of Individual taxpayers filed till 5th August, 2017 (due date of filing) increased to 2.79 crore from 2.22 crore returns filed during the corresponding period of last year, registering an increase of about 57 lakh returns (25.3%).

This shows marked improvement in the level of voluntary compliance as a result of action taken by the Income Tax Department on the basis of data of cash deposits in the wake of demonetization.

Impact on Direct Tax Collections

The effect of Demonetization is also clearly visible in the growth in Direct Tax Collections. Collection of Advance Tax under Personal Income Tax (i.e. other than Corporate Tax) as on 05.08.2017 showed a growth of about 41.79% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017.

 

Navodaya Vidyalayas to go Solar

Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar today directed the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) to take measure for adoption of solar energy in all Navodaya Vidyalayas.

He also directed that water and solar energy harvesting should form part of proposals in the new building plans and explore the possibility of having water harvesting and Bio-Gas plants in existing campuses.

 

DBT’s Smart Agriculture Conclave sets the stage for FarmerZone: The 
future of agriculture

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, convened the Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi from August 29 – 31 2017, in partnership with the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

The objective of the conclave

The objective of this conclave was to set the stage for “FarmerZone” – a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture which will use biological research and data to improve the lives of small and marginal farmers. It is envisaged that “FarmerZone” will help cater to all needs of the farmer, from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water, and seed requirements to providing market intelligence.

FarmerZone has been envisioned by the DBT and aligns with the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture that integrates science, technology, innovation and the farm ecosystem.

With the agricultural conclave, DBT aims to advance the process of technological intervention to help small and marginal land-holding farmers, who constitute a major component of Indian agriculture.

The conclave identified the challenges faced in each agro-climatic region, and discussed possible solutions through scientific interventions. The FarmerZone platform will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, thought leaders in agriculture, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions.

The platform will work on getting relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud, develop sentinel sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.

Food security is a global concern and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of families depend on small-scale agriculture. The conclave worked to address this challenge collectively and showcased the enormous research strength of India and its international partners in a global context, to achieve impact and build strong and sustainable research and innovation partnerships.

 

National Nutrition Week to be observed from 1st to 7th September

The National Nutrition Week will be observed throughout the country from 1st to 7th September.

The theme of the National Nutrition Week for 2017 is “Optimal Infant & Young Child Feeding Practices: Better Child Health“.

Objective

The basic objective of this annual event is to intensify awareness generation on the importance of nutrition for health which has an impact on development, productivity, economic growth and ultimately National development.

Issue of nutrition

Nutrition is an issue of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Child born underweight have impaired immune function and increased risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases in their later life. Malnourished children tend to have lower IQ and impaired cognitive ability, thus affecting their school performance and then productivity in their later life. It has to be realized that the nutritional health and all age groups represent say National Economic Asset.

As, improving the nutritional status of the population is imperative for National Development. Under nutrition in young children continues to be a major public health problem in India. The NFHS4 has not shown an encouraging improvement in the nutritional status, especially among women and children. As per NFHS-4 the level of underweight has decreased by 6.8% and is stunting by 9.6%. Level of anaemia has decreased by 11% as compared to NNHS-3 figures.

Malnutrition is not to be viewed merely as an offshoot of poverty having adverse effects on health and development of individuals but as a national problem that results in loss of productivity and economic backwardness. Time has come to create a moment so as to improve nutrition at the individual level. Thus, series of convergent and well coordinated actions in different sectors are required to be undertaken in the mission mode approach to address this big network problem of malnutrition.

 

UPSC Mains Practice Question

GS Paper 2

  1. While developed Members have access to huge amount of Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) beyond their de minimis in contrast most developing Members have access only to de minimis resulting in a major asymmetry in the rules on agricultural trade. Discuss the issue in the Indian perspective.

GS Paper 3

  1. Malnutrition is not to be viewed merely as an offshoot of poverty having adverse effects on health and development of individuals but as a national problem that results in loss of productivity and economic backwardness. Critically analyze the statement.
  2. Comment on the success of Start Up India in the North East Region of the country.
  3. Discuss the impact of demonetisation on Black Money, widening of tax base and direct tax collections.