25 Aug 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

25 Aug 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. China launches warship for Pakistan Navy
C. GS 3 Related
DEFENCE
1. DRDO lists 108 defence items for Indian firms
ECONOMY
1. Plea to hike cess on tobacco products
2. Waive service tax on AGR dues: telcos
SECURITY
1. DNA Bill can be misused, flags draft report
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Palestine, now a footnote
ECONOMY
1. The challenge of catching elusive taxpayers
2. India does need a Fiscal Council
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Reversing health sector neglect with a reform agenda
F. Prelims Facts
1. Guwahati gets India’s ‘longest’ river ropeway
G. Tidbits
1. NABARD plan to finance NBFCs, MFIs
2. Taliban delegation in Pakistan for Afghanistan peace process
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: ECONOMY

1. Plea to hike cess on tobacco products

Context:

Public health groups, along with doctors and economists, have urged the GST Council to increase compensation cess on all tobacco products.

Benefits:

  • It is said that the increased compensation cess would help in generating an additional tax revenue of ₹49,740 crore.
  • This additional revenue could significantly contribute to the increased need for compensation by different States during the pandemic and to disburse the dues already owed by the Centre.
  • By reducing the affordability, it is believed that the move would be instrumental in motivating millions of tobacco users to quit and preventing youngsters from initiating tobacco use.

Issues:

  • India has the second-largest number of tobacco users (268 million) in the world. Of these, at least 12 lakh die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
  • WHO recommends total taxes to represent at least 75 per cent of the retail price for all tobacco products.
  • Currently, the total tax burden (tax expressed as a percentage of the final retail price) is only 49.5 per cent for cigarettes, and 63.7 per cent for smokeless tobacco in India, well below the minimum recommended by the WHO.
  • Bidis, on the other hand, enjoy an extremely low tax burden of only 22 per cent.

2. Waive service tax on AGR dues: telcos

Context:

Telecom operators’ body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has approached the Finance Ministry seeking a waiver of service tax on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to be paid to the government.

Issue:

  • The telecom operators have been paying service tax and then GST under the reverse charge mechanism (RCM) on licence fees (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC) made to the Department of Telecom for the period starting April 1, 2016.
    • Reverse charge is a mechanism under which the recipient of the goods or services is liable to pay the tax instead of the provider of the goods and services.

Read more about Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and the related issue covered in 25th October 2019 and 19th June 2020 CNA.
Category: SECURITY

1. DNA Bill can be misused, flags draft report

Context:

A draft report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology on the DNA Bill has stated that some alarming provisions in the bill could be misused for caste or community-based profiling.

Background:

  • The Bill seeks to control the use and application of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology for establishing the identity of certain categories of persons, including offenders, victims, suspects and under-trials.
  • The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill of 2019 was introduced in and passed by the Lok Sabha in January 2019, but lapsed before it could be taken up by the Rajya Sabha.
  • It was later referred to a parliamentary standing committee for examination.

Read more on this issue covered in Gist of RSTV Big Picture – DNA Technology Bill.

Details:

  • The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Act, 2019, has been in the works for 15 years.
  • Nearly 60 countries have enacted similar legislation, with the U.S. bringing in a law as far back as in 1994.

Concerns:

  • The committee pointed out that DNA profiles can reveal extremely sensitive information of an individual such as pedigree, skin colour, behaviour, illness, health status and susceptibility to diseases.
  • Access to such intrusive information can be misused to specifically target individuals and their families with their own genetic data.
  • It is particularly worrying as it could even be used to incorrectly link a particular caste/community to criminal activities.
  • The report also red-flagged disregard for an individual’s privacy and other safeguards.
    • The committee urged the government to amend the provisions to ensure that if the person has been found innocent his DNA profile must be removed immediately from the data bank.
  • The report noted that there is no legal or moral justification for a database with DNA, given the high potential for misuse.
  • In the Bill, if a person is arrested for an offence that carries a punishment of up to seven years, investigation authorities must take the person’s written consent before taking the DNA sample. However, this consent is only “perfunctory”.
  • The Bill refers to consent in several provisions, but in each of those, a magistrate can easily override consent, thereby in effect, making consent perfunctory.
  • There is also no guidance in the Bill on the grounds and reasons when the magistrate can override consent, which could become a fatal flaw.
  • The Bill also provides that DNA profiles for civil matters will be stored in the data banks, but without a clear and separate index. The committee questioned the necessity for storage of such profiles, pointing out that this violates the fundamental right to privacy and does not serve any public purpose.
  • Therefore, in the absence of a robust data protection legislation, the security of a huge number of DNA profiles that will be placed with the National DNA Data bank and its regional centres becomes questionable.

G. Tidbits

1. NABARD plan to finance NBFCs, MFIs

What’s in News?

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has introduced the Structured Finance and Partial Guarantee Programme to NBFC-MFIs.

  • It is a dedicated debt and credit guarantee product, to ensure unhindered flow of credit to the last mile in COVID-19-affected rural areas.
  • The initiative will enhance access to sustainable finance for micro-enterprises and low-income households.
  • As per this programme, NABARD will provide partial guarantee on pooled loans extended to small and mid-sized MFIs.
  • It will help facilitate ₹2,500 crore funding in the initial phase and is expected to be scaled up going forward.

2. Taliban delegation in Pakistan for Afghanistan peace process

What’s in News?

A high-level delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha arrived in Pakistan to discuss the way forward in the Afghan peace process with the Pakistani leadership.

  • The Taliban delegation led by their political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is visiting Islamabad at the invitation of the country’s foreign office.
  • He said that Pakistan was playing a facilitating role on the Afghan issue, which led to a peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.
  • He opined that it is now up to Afghans to decide the way forward, adding that China was also supporting the Afghan peace process.
  • This is the second visit of Mullah Baradar to Pakistan in the last 10 months.
  • He visited Islamabad in October 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly called off the peace talks with the Taliban.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Peacock Island:
  1. It is located in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary.
  2. It is the world’s smallest inhabited river island.
  3. It houses a temple dedicated to the god Shiva and is also known as Umananda Island.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Peacock Island is located in the middle of the river Brahmaputra, flowing through the city of Guwahati in Assam.
  • It is the world’s smallest inhabited river island.
  • It houses the Umananda temple and is also known as Umananda Island.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to the Bonda Tribe:
  1. They are classified as a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG).
  2. Bondas live in the state of Odisha.
  3. They speak the Remo language.

Which of the given statement/s is/are incorrect?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 only
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Odisha’s Bonda tribe are classified as one of India’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • They speak the Remo language, one of the Mundari group of languages spoken by Munda people.
Q3. The IUCN Red List classifies the Golden Langur as:
  1. Extinct in the wild
  2. Critically Endangered
  3. Endangered
  4. Vulnerable
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Golden Langur is found in small regions of western Assam and in the neighbouring foothills of the black mountains of Bhutan.
  • It is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope 
(GMRT):
  1. It is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes.
  2. It is located in the state of Maharashtra.
  3. It aided in the observation of the Ophiuchus Supercluster explosion.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

All the statements are correct.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the need for India to push thoroughgoing reforms in ensuring effective universal health coverage. Examine the statement and suggest the best way forward. (GS 2 Governance) (15 Marks, 250 Words)
  2. Analyse the geopolitical implications of the Israel-UAE pact. (GS 2 International Relations) (15 Marks, 250 Words)

Read the previous CNA here.

25 Aug 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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