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26 December, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Typhoon Phanfone batters Philippines Human Geography
Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P. Modern History
GS-II Free WiFi to all villages connected through BharatNet till March 2020
Grievance redressal mechanism for taxpayers to be set up
India eyes 60% share of global ship recycling business
GS-III The strong case for and against fiscal expansion Economic Issues
Bandhavgarh forests get a trunk call in elephant-less MP
GS-I : Human Geography
Typhoon Phanfone batters Philippines

Syllabus subtopic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About typhoon Phanfone; about tropical cyclones and its types

 

News: Typhoon Phanfone pummelled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday to millions in the mainly Catholic nation.

  • Though weaker, Phanfone was tracking a similar path to Super Typhoon Haiyan, the country’s deadliest cyclone on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

 

About Tropical cyclones

  • Tropical cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction due to violent winds (squalls), very heavy rainfall (torrential rainfall) and storm surge.
  • They are irregular wind movements involving closed circulation of air around a low pressure centre. This closed air circulation (whirling motion) is a result of rapid upward movement of hot air which is subjected to Coriolis force. The low pressure at the center is responsible for the wind speeds.
  • The cyclonic wind movements are anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere (This is due to Coriolis force).

 

Regional names for Tropical Cyclones

Regions

Name

Indian Ocean

Cyclones

Atlantic

Hurricanes

Western Pacific and South China Sea

Typhoons

Western Australia

Willy-willies

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GS-I : Modern History
Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P.

Syllabus subtopic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the recent discovery by ASI and its significance; about Saptamatrikas; need for conservation of our culture and heritage

News: In a significant find, the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered the earliest epigraphic evidence so far for the Saptamatrika cult. It is also the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date.

 

Background

So far the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year corresponding to the 4th century A.D. was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India

 

About Saptamatrikas

  • Saptamatrikas are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.

 

About the discovered inscription

  • It was discovered in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh earlier this month.
  • The inscription was first copied and studied and it transpired that it records the construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa and consecration of images on the southern side of the temple by a person named Kartika for the merit of the king at the temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape; Tambrape being the ancient name of Chebrolou.
  • The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
  • The inscription came to light when some local villagers informed the authorities of the presence of a pillar with some engravings when they were restoring and repairing the local Bheemeshwara temple.
  • There are references of Saptamatrika worship in the early Kadamba copper plates and the early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates. But the new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.
  • The verification of all the available records proved that the Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year – 207 A.D. — is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far.
  • According to Matsya Purana, Vijaya is the 28th king of the Satavahana dynasty and ruled for 6 years.

 

Conservation

Calling for conservation and preservation of the pillar given its historical importance, the ASI  pointed out that there were many such ancient monuments and structures across the country that lacked protection but could contain a treasure trove of information.

 

About the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of India. It was established in 1861. It works under Ministry of culture.

 

  • The major functions of Archaeological Survey of India include maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.

 

  • Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, the ASI has declared 3656 monuments to be of national importance in the country.

 

  • ASI has also undertaken major conservation works abroad besides carrying out excavations, explorations, images and other studies in countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia and Egypt.
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GS-II :
Free WiFi to all villages connected through BharatNet till March 2020

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prelims and Mains focus: about BharatNet project and its significance in bridging the digital divide across the country; about USOF

News: The central government will provide free WiFi till March 2020 to all villages connected through the BharatNet broadband service at present, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday.

 

Current scenario

  • At present, around 48,000 villages connected through the BharatNet project have WiFi access.
  • The govt. says it has connected 1.3 lakh gram panchayats through BharatNet network so far. The aim is to take this further to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. To promote further utilisation, the govt. will provide WiFi free in all villages connected through BharatNet till March 2020.

 

About BharartNet Project

  • The government’s BharatNet project aims to provide access to all the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country.
  • Last year, the government said it had connected nearly 1 lakh gram panchayats through BharatNet in phase-one.
  • So far, a total of Rs 20,431 crore has been spent from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for connecting villages under BharatNet.
  • The total cost of both the phases was pegged at Rs 45,000 crore by the government in November 2017.

Role of CSCs

  • The Common Service Centres (CSCs) act as the nodal point from where the WiFi and broadband services are distributed.
  • Other than that, the CSCs also act as banking correspondents and access point for delivery of other important government services such as updating Aadhaar, getting passport made, among other things.
  • At present, there are about 3.60 lakh CSCs operating across the country.

 

Universal Service Obligation Fund:

  • USOF, established in 2002, provides effective subsidies to ensure telegraph services are provided to everyone across India, especially in the rural and remote areas. It is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

 

  • Funds come from the Universal Service Levy (USL) of 5% charged from all the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched.

 

  • The USOF works through a bidding process, where funds are given to the enterprise quoting the lowest bid.
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GS-II :
Grievance redressal mechanism for taxpayers to be set up

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the step taken by the GST Council and its significance; structure and mandate of GST Council

 

News: The GST Council will set up a grievance redressal mechanism for taxpayers. The decision was taken at the 38th meeting of the GST Council on December 18.

 

Details of the decision taken in the GST Council meeting

  • It has decided that a structured grievance redressal mechanism should be established for the taxpayers under GST to tackle grievances on GST-related issues.
  • The Council will set up the Grievance Redressal Committee at zonal and state levels comprising central tax and state tax officers, representatives of industry and GST stakeholders.
  • The panel will be constituted for two years and the term of each member will be for likewise.
  • If any member of the panel would be absent for three consecutive meetings, without adequate reasons, the member will be replaced with a fresh nomination by the principal chief commissioner/chief commissioner of central tax in consultation with the chief commissioner/ commissioner of state tax.

 

About GST Council

  • It is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
  • It is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.

 

 Composition

As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members: -

  • Union Finance Minister - Chairperson;
  • Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance
  • Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government

 

Mandate of GST Council

It shall make recommendations to the Union and the States on—

  • the taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Union, the States and the local bodies which may be subsumed in the goods and services tax;
  • the goods and services that may be subjected to, or exempted from the goods and services tax;
  • model Goods and Services Tax Laws, principles of levy, apportionment of Goods and Services Tax levied on supplies in the course of inter-State trade or commerce under article 269A and the principles that govern the place of supply;
  • the threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from goods and services tax;
  • the rates including floor rates with bands of goods and services tax;
  • any special rate or rates for a specified period, to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster;
  • special provision with respect to the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; and any other matter relating to the goods and services tax, as the Council may decide.
  • It shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.
  • While discharging the functions conferred by this article, the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be guided by the need for a harmonized structure of goods and services tax and for the development of a harmonized national market for goods and services.
  • One-half of the total number of Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall constitute the quorum at its meetings.
  • The Goods and Services Tax Council shall determine the procedure in the performance of its functions.
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GS-II :
India eyes 60% share of global ship recycling business

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 and its significance; about the Hong Kong convention

 

News: With a new legislation in place, India aims to garner at least 60% of the global ship recycling business and emerge as a key destination for recycling warships and other ship.

 

Ship recycling in India

  • Gujarat’s Alang, the world’s biggest shipyard, was ready to cater to the projected increase in the number of ships for recycling.
  • Currently, India recycles around 300 of the 1,000 ships which are demolished per annum globally.
  • However, the likes of Japan, the United States and Europe were not sending their ships for recycling to India in the absence of ratification of a global convention. That scenario is set to change with the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019.
  • The Act ratifies the Hong Kong convention and would facilitate an environment-friendly process of recycling ships and adequate safety for yard workers.
  • The govt. says contribution from ship recycling activities to the country’s GDP would reach $2.2 billion, almost double compared to the current level.

 

Note: To read the details of the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, click on the link below:

http://prsindia.org/billtrack/recycling-ships-bill-2019

 

 

About the Hong Kong Convention

  • The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention), was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China in 2009.
  • It was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009.
  • The Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.
  • It also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.
  • The Convention is yet to come into force because it has not been ratified by 15 nations, representing 40 per cent of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage (capacity) and a maximum annual ship recycling volume of not less than 3 per cent of the combined tonnage of the countries.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
The strong case for and against fiscal expansion

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About fiscal deficit and its significance in determining economic status of a country; types of deficits

 

Context: Several economists have called for a proactive fiscal response to the current slowdown. However, others, such as Gita Gopinath and Arvind Subramanian, have advised against fiscal expansion.

 

 

Why is the fiscal deficit so important?

One of the reasons fiscal deficit is so important is that it gives us the extent of government borrowings required to meet its expenditure commitments in a financial year. It is an important indicator of macroeconomic stability. The 1991 balance of payments crisis came against the backdrop of sustained high fiscal deficit. Several countries have seen economic or debt crises due to high deficits over the years. Sustained macroeconomic imbalance could lead to recession.

 

What is its impact in a closed economy?

Lately, fiscal deficit hasn’t affected inflation much. However, it does have an impact on investments as it results in an increase in the cost of capital in a closed economy. When the government increases its borrowings, the savings left in the economy to finance private sector investment comes down. Therefore, the cost of capital goes up. This, in effect, dampens investments and is termed as “crowding out” of investment. This is precisely why several commentators have cautioned against increasing government borrowings at a time when investment by the private sector is low.

 

Do government borrowings ’crowd out’ investments?

Evidence from India reveals that government investment actually “crowds in” investment as these are made for the development of physical infrastructure. Investors need basic infrastructure in place before risking capital. Therefore, government investments to put in place this infrastructure are critical in crowding in private investment.

 

What’s the case for a fiscal expansion?

Lower demand results in unutilized capacities, which results in low investments. This leads to lower growth, thereby reducing demand. This vicious cycle should broken by a proactive fiscal policy. Weak demand can be addressed only by a revival of private investment, improvement of private demand, or expansion in government demand. Only the third is in the government’s control. The Centre can increase the fiscal deficit to 3.8% of GDP. However, it should not shy away from going beyond this if needed.

 

What about bond yields, cost of capital?

Higher borrowings can raise cost of capital. Thus, many welcomed the move to opt for sovereign issuance, which would have led to easing of rates locally. India can undertake fiscal expansion along with monetary easing. Muted non-food inflation along with external conditions make it the right time to cut rates for lower government borrowings cost. Our fiscal deficit is 80% interest. So a reduction in cost of borrowings would create space for further expenditure.

 

About Deficit Financing

Deficit financing is the budgetary situation where expenditure is higher than the revenue. It is a practice adopted for financing the excess expenditure with outside resources. The expenditure revenue gap is financed by either printing of currency or through borrowing.

Nowadays most governments both in the developed and developing world are having deficit budgets and these deficits are often financed through borrowing. Hence the fiscal deficit is the ideal indicator of deficit financing.

Deficit financing is very useful in developing countries like India because of revenue scarcity and development expenditure needs.

 

Various indicators of deficit in the budget are:

  1. Budget deficit =    total expenditure – total receipts

 

  1. Revenue deficit =    revenue expenditure – revenue receipts

 

  1. Fiscal Deficit =  total expenditure – total receipts except borrowings

 

  1. Primary Deficit =  Fiscal deficit- interest payments

 

  1. Effective revenue Deficit =  Revenue Deficit – grants for the creation of capital  assets

 

  1. Monetized Fiscal Deficit =   that part of the fiscal deficit covered by borrowing from the RBI.
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GS-III :
Bandhavgarh forests get a trunk call in elephant-less MP

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the recent status of elephant conservation in India; Elephants reserves in India; Efforts and challenges in their conservation

 

News: For the first time, Bandhavgarh reserve forest in Madhya Pradesh has a colony of elephants – the same herd of about 40 animals that arrived at the sanctuary around this time last year, and has stayed on.

 

What’s unique about it?

  • This, experts say, is an unusual occurrence in Bandhavgarh, which has, over the years, played host to herds of elephants that arrive to graze and forage and subsequently travel back to neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
  • Elephant experts now say the development is a sign not only of a rise in elephant numbers in the country, and the fact that they are travelling, but also that they can thrive at a place given the right conditions.

 

Why Bandhavgarh is an ideal place for elephants to thrive

  • Bandhavgarh is a large reserve forest – they have plenty of food and water here, and may be this is why they stayed on.
  • While the reserve has received no new funds for the elephants, certain measures have been taken, such as:

 

  1. Elephant experts and wildlife officials from West Bengal and Chattisgarh have come to train the staff.
  2. Patrolling teams have been deputed to monitor the elephants round the clock
  3. Conducting awareness and sensitisation campaigns in surrounding villages so that the locals are aware in order to prevent man-elephant conflict, if there arises any.

 

 

Measure taken by Union govt.

  • In October this year, the Union Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted a technical committee to develop a National Elephant Action Plan.

 

Significance

  • It is now obvious that if given a healthy habitat, elephants will stay put at a place. This is something that needs to be replicated in Chhattisgarh and other elephant areas.
  • Migrating elephants is now a country-wide trend, with the animals moving from South India to North India, and from the country’s east towards the west. The source population is increasing, so the animals are migrating. Tiger and elephant ranges in the country are also expanding.

 

Elephants in Chattisgarh

  • Within Chhattisgarh, elephants keep travelling from one place to another, before being hounded out by villagers who are trying to save their crops. Although there is extensive forest cover, it is often patchy and elephants in Chhattisgarh rely on crops a lot, so the human-elephant conflict here becomes inevitable.
  • Surguja, in north Chhattisgarh, not far from the MP boundary, there were elephants in that area earlier. There are records of this, and even records of elephants being either hunted or captured and presented to Mughal emperors from Surguja. But in the 1920s, they disappeared entirely for unknown reasons. Then they reappeared in the late-1990s and early-2000s.
  • Today, there are 250 elephants in north Chhattisgarh that have mostly come from Odisha and Jharkhand

 

Elephants in India

 

 

 

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