18 Sep 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

Sept 18th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. SC Collegium on mission mode to fill vacancies
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Australia shrugs off China anger on nuclear subs
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Biden unveils plan to cut methane emissions
ECONOMY
1. GST Council not for inclusion of petroleum products: FinMin
2. Major restructuring of Railways on anvil
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Picking up the threads from the Afghan rubble
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Act and friction
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. ‘Political change in Afghanistan not inclusive’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Australia shrugs off China anger on nuclear subs

Context:

Australia has brushed aside Chinese anger over its decision to acquire U.S. nuclear-powered submarines. However, Australia has vowed to defend the rule of law in airspace and waters where Beijing has staked hotly contested claims.

Background:

  • The U.S. President announced the new Australia-U.S.-Britain defence alliance, extending U.S. nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.
  • AUKUS is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • The United States and the United Kingdom will help Australia to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines, adding to the Western military presence in the Pacific region.

This issue has been covered in Sep 17th, 2021 CNA.

Category: ECONOMY

1. GST Council not for inclusion of petroleum products: FinMin

Context:

The 45th Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meet.

Key Highlights:

  • The GST council has decided to keep petroleum products out of the GST regime.
    • Five petroleum goods — petrol, diesel, ATF, natural gas and crude oil — have been kept out of the purview of the GST regime.
  • Consumers will have to keep paying the Compensation Cess levied on products like automobiles till March 2026 instead of July 2022 as originally decided at the time of rolling out GST.
  • Some States have demanded to extend the five-year period for which they have been assured a 14% revenue growth for giving up several taxation powers to pave the way for implementing the GST regime.
    • The finance minister indicated that the Union government is not inclined to consider these demands as the compensation was to be paid for five years only till July 2022 with an assured level of revenue for the States.
  • Import of leased aircraft exempted from I-GST.
  • Food delivery apps to collect and remit GST on food orders instead of restaurants.
  • Tax on fortified rice kernels under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme has been reduced from 18% to 5%.
  • GST on cancer drug Keytruda brought down from 12% to 5%.
  • GST on footwear costing less than ₹1,000 as well as readymade garments and fabrics has been increased from 5% to 12%.
  • It approved a special composition scheme for brick kilns with a turnover threshold of ₹20 lakh, from April 1, 2022.
    • Under the scheme, GST for bricks would be 6% without input tax credits or 12% with input credits.

Issue:

  • Originally, the GST regime was premised on a revenue-neutral tax rate of 15.5%. But, due to changes made in the tax rates on various goods and services over the last few years, the actual GST revenues had been going down with the effective tax rate slipping to 11.6%.

What next?

  • To bring up GST revenues, the Council has decided to form two groups of ministers (GoMs) that have to recommend measures within two months.
    • One has been tasked with reviewing tax rate rationalisation issues to correct anomalies in the rate structure.
    • The other will look to tap technology to improve compliance and monitoring. This will look at e-way bills, Fastags, compliance and composition schemes to plug loopholes.
  • The Compensation Cess levied on automobiles, tobacco products and aerated water, over and above the basic GST rate, was to be tapped for covering the gap between States’ actual revenues and the 14% annual revenue growth for five years they were assured for adopting GST.
    • The Council had decided in 2020 that the Compensation Cess levy will be extended to repay the principal amount as well as the interest payable on these borrowings.

2. Major restructuring of Railways on anvil

Context:

The Indian Railways is heading for a major restructuring plan. The restructuring could lead to the closure of key establishments, merger of decades-old organisations and private participation in the running of its schools and hospitals.

Recommendations:

  • The recommendations of the Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal for Rationalisation of Government Bodies and Proposal for the Ministry of Railways calls for winding up:
    • the Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE),
    • the Central Organisation for Modernisation Of Workshops (COFMOW),
    • the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) and
      • CRIS develops software capacity in the railways that includes passenger ticketing, freight invoicing, passenger train operations, management of train crew and management of fixed/rolling assets.
    • the Indian Railways Organisation for Alternative Fuel (IROAF) (already closed).
  • The closure of the IROAF has sent out a signal that the proposal could be implemented partly or wholly in due course of time.
  • RailTel, one of the largest telecom infrastructure providers in the country that focuses on modernising operations and safety systems through optic fibre networks that exist along railway tracks, would be merged with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
  • Among other recommendations were the merger of the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL) which implements projects relating to the creation and augmentation of railway infrastructure, with the Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON), a specialised infrastructure construction organisation.
    • The panel said both the RVNL and the IRCON had similar functions and hence could be merged.
  • The merger of railway schools with Kendriya Vidyalayas or handing them over to the respective State governments has been recommended as operating the railway schools takes up a large amount of time of the railway management.
  • The establishment of Central Public Sector Enterprises to bring eight production units under its fold has been recommended.
    • This would mean that the assets, infrastructure and employees of three coach factories, three locomotive manufacturing units and two Rail Wheel Units would be transferred to the proposed CPSE.
  • The merger of the Central Training Institutes with the National Rail and Transportation Institute has been recommended.
    • Prior to the merger, National Rail and Transportation Institute would be upgraded into a Central University and an Institute of National Importance, roping in private participation.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. With reference to joint military exercises with India, which of the following is/are 
correctly matched?
  1. Mitra Shakti – Nepal
  2. Surya Kiran – Sri Lanka
  3. Maitree – Thailand

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Mitra Shakti exercise is a bilateral joint military exercise between the armies of India and Sri Lanka. It is also called the India-Sri Lanka Joint Training exercise.
  • Surya Kiran is a bilateral Joint Military Exercise between Indian and Nepal.
  • Exercise Maitree is a bilateral exercise between the Indian Army and the Royal Thai Army, started off in 2006. It is an annual event between the troops of the armies of both countries. It is also called Indo-Thailand Joint Exercise.
Q2. Which of the following is/are the advantages of millet production?
  1. Millets are termed as the ‘crops of the future’ as they can not only grow under harsh circumstances but are drought-resistant crops.
  2. Millets help in curbing obesity.
  3. Millets contribute to mitigating climate change as it helps reduce the atmospheric carbon.

Options:

  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:

  • Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher levels of protein with a more balanced amino acid profile, crude fibre and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous.
  • Millets provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
  • Millets are termed as the ‘crops of the future’ as they can not only grow under harsh circumstances but are drought-resistant crops.
  • Millets help in curbing obesity.
  • Millets contribute to mitigating climate change as it helps reduce the atmospheric carbon.
Q3. Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) which serves to promote cooperation of member 
states against terrorism is an organ of 
  1. CSTO
  2. SCO
  3. African Union
  4. ASEAN
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Q4. Which of the following countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation 
(CSTO)?
  1. Armenia
  2. Belarus
  3. Kazakhstan
  4. Russian Federation
  5. Tajikistan
  6. Uzbekistan

Options:

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
  2. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 only
  3. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

Country Year of Entry into CSTO
Armenia 1994
Belarus 1994
Kazakhstan 1994
Kyrgyzstan 1994
Russia 1994
Tajikistan 1994

Uzbekistan was formerly a member of CSTO but withdrew in 2012.

Q5. With reference to Indian history, which of the following is/are the essential 
element/elements of the feudal system? (UPSC 2015)
  1. A very strong centralized political authority and a very weak provincial or local political authority.
  2. Emergence of administrative structure based on control and possession of land.
  3. Creation of lord-vassal relationship between the feudal lord and his overlord.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

Following are the essential elements of the feudal system:

  • The emergence of an administrative structure based on control and possession of land.
  • Creation of lord-vassal relationship between the feudal lord and his overlord.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Of all the countries involved in Afghanistan, India possibly has the best credentials to enable Kabul’s neutrality. Substantiate. (10 Marks, 150 Words) (GS 2 International Relations)
  2. Friction between Judiciary and Government on appointments to the Tribunals calls for establishing a national commission. Analyse. (10 Marks, 150 Words) (GS 2 Polity and Governance).

Read the previous CNA here.

Sept 18th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

2 Comments

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    1. Dear aspirant,
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