08 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

8 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Extend working days under MGNREGA
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. stance on CAATSA unchanged
2. F-1 visa students cannot take all classes online: U.S.
C. GS 3 Related
DEFENCE
1. ‘Top priority’ to complete strategic roads
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Mining giant told to pay $2 bn for Arctic spill
ECONOMY
1. ‘Centre won’t extend deadline for levy on foreign e-com firms’
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. In stand-off, keeping an eye on the nuclear ball
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. More sabre-rattling, more isolation
F. Prelims Facts
1. Big flap: golden birdwing is India’s largest butterfly
2. Software Technology Parks of India (STPI)
G. Tidbits
1. Centre to lay down vaccine trial norms
2. China censors Internet in Hong Kong
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. F-1 visa students cannot take all classes online: U.S.

Context:

Foreign students in the U.S., including thousands of Indians, are left facing the possibility of falling out of valid immigration status following a Department of Homeland Security rule about attending online classes.

What is the new rule?

  • The U.S. rule, announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says those F-1 and M-1 (non-academic and vocational students) visa holders planning to take only online classes in the fall (autumn) will not be allowed to remain in the U.S. Due to COVID-19, a number of universities are planning to shift all their classes online for the fall semester.
    • Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the U.S.
    • Those whose colleges and universities were moving to an online-only model would, therefore, have to leave the country or find another way to stay in status.
    • Normally F-1 students are allowed to take one class or three credit hours online.
  • According to ICE, active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

Details:

  • With at least 200,000 Indian students in the U.S, the country is the second-largest source of foreign students, China being the first.
  • This difficult situation for students is exacerbated by the unprecedented disruption to international travel.
  • The U.S. announcement comes weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended H1-B highly skilled worker visas through the end of the year.
    • Most of these visas go to Indian citizens each year.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Mining giant told to pay $2 bn for Arctic spill

Context:

Russia’s state environmental watchdog said that metals giant Norilsk Nickel should pay an unprecedented $2 billion in damages over a huge Arctic fuel spill.

Details:

  • Russia had declared a national emergency after a spill of 21,000 tonnes of diesel fuel.
  • President Vladimir Putin has said he expects Norilsk Nickel to fully restore the environment.
  • Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium.

Oil Spill in Russia’s Arctic region has been covered in the 5th June 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.
Category: ECONOMY

1. ‘Centre won’t extend deadline for levy on foreign e-com firms’

Context:

The government has made it clear that it is not considering extending the deadline for payment of Equalisation Levy by non-resident e-commerce players, even though a majority of them are yet to deposit the first installment of the tax.

Details:

  • The 2% equalisation levy was introduced in the 2020-21 Budget and came into effect from April 1, 2020.
  • The ‘equalisation tax’ is designed to provide a level playing field for resident marketplaces or providers who are subject to Indian income taxes.
  • Providers subject to the tax obligations include non-resident who owns, operates, or manages a digital or electronic facility or platform for online sales of goods, online provision of services, or both.
  • The provider is liable to the tax if they are providing their own goods or service, and if facilitating the sales on their electronic platforms of other sellers.
  • The tax applies to e-commerce transactions on websites such as Amazon.com. Google in particular has been worried as the tax applies to advertising revenue earned overseas if those ads target customers in India.
  • The levy is seen as aimed at taxing foreign companies which have a significant local client base in India but were billing them through their offshore units, effectively escaping the country’s tax system.
  • As per law, late-payment would attract interest at the rate of 1% per month or part of the month. Non-payment could result in a penalty equal to the amount of equalisation levy, along with interest.

Issues:

  • Tax experts point out that there are practical difficulties in getting PAN and many companies are not paying the equalisation levy as there is still considerable confusion and lack of clarity on the applicability of the same.
    • It is believed that the requirement of having a PAN and an Indian bank account could cause administrative delays in remittance by non-residents.
  • The levy has several issues that primarily include very wide coverage (even non-e-commerce companies could be covered), lack of clarity on how consideration needs to be determined especially in cases where the income is minuscule compared to the transactions facilitated by the non-resident e-commerce operators.
  • Even transactions between non-residents are covered and this according to tax experts would be an extraterritorial overreach along with practical difficulty in implementation.

2. Software Technology Parks of India (STPI)

  • STPI is an autonomous society set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in 1991.
  • It was set up with the objective of encouraging, promoting and boosting software exports.
  • STPI maintains internal engineering resources to provide consulting, training and implementation of IT-enabled services.
  • The STPI’s Governing Council’s Chairperson is the Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology.

STP Scheme:

  • STP Scheme is a 100 percent Export Oriented Scheme for the development and export of computer software, including the export of professional services using communication links or physical media.

G. Tidbits

1. Centre to lay down vaccine trial norms

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted regulators across the world to issue emergency use authorisation for certain drugs and trials on potential vaccines.
  • This is done to accelerate the approval process without compromising on objectively assessing whether the potential vaccine or investigational drug provides some additional benefit or reprieve over being defenceless.
  • The government is readying a document that will lay down guidelines for companies and institutions working on potential COVID-19 vaccines.

2. China censors Internet in Hong Kong

  • China has unveiled new powers to censor Hong Kong’s Internet and access user data using its national security law.
  • The U.S. tech giants have put up some resistance citing rights concerns.
  • The online censorship plans released in a government document also revealed expanded powers for police, allowing warrantless raids and surveillance for some national security investigations.
  • Despite assurances that only a small number of people would be targeted by the law, the new details show it is the most radical change in Hong Kong’s freedoms and rights since Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following is India’s largest butterfly?
  1. Female golden birdwing
  2. Southern birdwing
  3. Quaker
  4. Elusive Prince
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • A Himalayan butterfly named golden birdwing is now India’s largest butterfly (wingspan of 194 mm).
  • While the male golden birdwing (Troides aeacus) is much smaller at 106 mm wingspan, the female of the species is marginally larger than the southern birdwing.
  • The record was earlier held by southern birdwing (wingspan of 190 mm) for 88 years.
  • The smallest is the quaker (Neopithecops zalmora) with a wingspan of 18 mm.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Daulat Beg Oldie:
  1. It is the northernmost corner of Indian Territory in Ladakh.
  2. It has the world’s highest airstrip.
  3. It is to the west of the Line of Actual Control at Aksai Chin.

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:

  • Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) is the northernmost corner of Indian Territory in Ladakh.
  • DBO has the world’s highest airstrip, originally built during the 1962 war but abandoned until 2008, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the LAC, with the landing of an Antonov An-32.
    • It is located at an altitude of 16,614 ft.
  • DBO is less than 10 km west of the LAC at Aksai Chin. A military outpost was created in DBO in reaction to China’s occupation of Aksai Chin, and is at present manned by a combination of the Army’s Ladakh Scouts and the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Q3. “Idlib Province” frequently in the news is located in:
  1. Syria
  2. Iran
  3. Israel
  4. Afghanistan
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

Idlib is a province in Syria. Its proximity to the Turkish border makes Idlib strategically important to the Syrian government.

Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to Strategic Forces Command (SFC):
  1. It works on the directives of the Nuclear Command Authority.
  2. It is responsible for the management and administration of India’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.

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

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

Both statements are correct.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss how China’s nuclear modernisation and diversified nuclear capabilities present challenges to India and suggest what should be India’s short and long term measures to counter this looming threat. (15 marks, 250 words)
  2. Discuss what is India’s stake in the South China Sea (SCS) dispute and analyze what should be India’s response to the evolving situation in the region. (10 marks, 150 words)

Read the previous CNA here.

8 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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