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22 January 2021: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam

1. KIIFB borrowings bypass limits for State: CAG

GS 2: Centre-State Relations and Indian Constitution

GS 3: Capital Market Mobilization of Resources Growth & Development


CONTEXT:

1. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reported that the off-budget borrowings for critical infra projects by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) have bypassed the limits set on government borrowings under Article 293 of the Constitution as these borrowings did not have legislative approval.

ABOUT:

1. Entry 37 of the List 1 of the Seventh schedule of the Constitution gives powers of raising foreign loans only to the Centre.

2. KIIFB borrowings are in violation of the Constitution and encroachment on the powers of the Centre.

3. KIIFB borrowings have not been disclosed in the Budget documents or in the accounts, which questions transparency, and of inter-generational equity of the borrowings.

4. It raised funds by issuance of bonds which were to be repaid from the petroleum cess and motor vehicle tax.


STAND OF STATE GOVERNMENT:

1. State was not given any opportunity to offer its comments, observations or explanation before publishing of the report by the CAG.

2. Funds from KIIFB are being used to build public infrastructures and such a move by CAG could hurt the interests of the State.

3. KIIFB Bonds were raised with the approval of RBI then how such borrowings can be unconstitutional.

 
CONCLUSION:

1. As KIIFB has no source of income, and state stood as a guarantor to the borrowings by the KIIFB, and this may ultimately turn out to be a direct liability of the State government.

2. State has to furnish to Centre all the financial statements showing the estimates of receipts and payments of all sources of borrowings, including Open Market borrowings.

3. If this mode was followed by other States, the external liabilities of the country would rise substantially without the Centre’s knowledge of such liabilities.

4. For decentralisation of financial autonomy, it is necessary to provide a mechanism for regulation of state subnational debt.

 

Chapter II in Part XII of the Constitution of India deals with borrowing. Article 292 deals with borrowing by the Central Government, Article 293 (1) of the Constitution sets the limit on state government borrowings.

Off-budget borrowings: Government keeps its fiscal deficit in check by making quasi-government entities borrow on its behalf, to partly fund its expenditure plan for the year.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

2. Launch of Regulatory Compliance Portal to minimize Regulatory Compliance Burden for Businesses and Citizens

GS 2: Government Policies & Interventions and E-Governance

GS 3: Growth & Development


CONTEXT:

1. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched a regulatory compliance portal.

ABOUT REGULATORY COMPLIANCE PORTAL:

1. First-of-its-kind central online repository of all central and State-level compliances.

2. All Central Ministries/Departments and States/UTs would examine laws/regulations/rules under their purview

3. Then they will implement an Action Plan to rationalize and simplify all the processes and remove burdensome compliances, decriminalize laws and repeal redundant Acts. 

4. These details would be captured and tracked on the Regulatory Compliance Portal.

5. The steps taken will be instrumental in achieving the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and help usher ease of doing business for industry and ease of living for citizens.

 

AIMS:

1. Act as a bridge for citizens, industries and the government to minimise burdensome compliances.

2. Reduce the compliance burden

3. Simplify further the citizen-government interface whether online or offline

4. Remove antiquated and obsolete acts which don’t add value

 

DPIIT

1. It is acting as the nodal department for coordinating the exercise of minimizing regulatory compliance burden for citizens and businesses which have an adverse impact on time and cost of businesses.

Source: PIB

 

3. Indian military personnel for Moscow soon for S-400 training

GS 2: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements and Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India's Interests

GS 3: Defence Technology


CONTEXT:

1. The first Indian group of military specialists will soon depart for Moscow (Russia) to undergo training courses on the S-400 Triumf missile defence system.

WHY?

1. Despite objections from the US and the threat of sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India signed a 5.43 billion USD deal with Russia for the S-400 Triumf missile system in October 2018.

 

S-400 TRIUMF MISSILE SYSTEM:

1. A mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

2. Engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.

3. Track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.

 

SIGNIFICANCE:

1. Most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world

2. Considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)

3. India’s acquisition is crucial to counter attacks in a two-front war, including even high-end F-35 US fighter aircraft.

Source: The Hindu

 

 

4. 5TH India – Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue

GS 2: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements


CONTEXT:

1. 5th Defence Ministers' Dialogue (DMD) was recently held between India and Singapore through a video conferencing and continues the substantial increase in bilateral cooperation and defence partnership over the years.

2. Defence and security engagements between India and Singapore have broadened significantly in scale and scope across all three Services of the Armed Forces as well as in the areas of defence technology and industry.

3. Both countries have also found common ground on multilateral fora and engagements.

 

ABOUT:

1. Both navies signed Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation.

2. Full support was conveyed by both countries towards the early conclusion of agreements to establish reciprocal arrangements for the cross-attendance of military courses and facilitate conduct of live firings.

3. Both also welcomed the initiatives to expand bilateral defence cooperation including the implementing agreement on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation in August 2020.

STAND OF INDIA

STAND OF SIGNAPORE

Conveyed gratitude for the role of the Singapore Armed Forces, in supporting foreign workers, many of whom were Indian Nationals, at the peak of pandemic.

Reaffirmed Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) centrality in the regional security architecture

Pledged its support to all endeavours of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.

Complimented India’s successes in bringing down Covid-19 cases despite challenges in geography and population.

Expressed support for India’s upcoming co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on HADR.

 

Source: PIB

 

 

5. Ensure scientific management of e-waste, environmental crimes as serious as assault: NGT to CPCB

AND

Biomedical waste sites must get authorisation: NGT

GS 2: Government Policies & Interventions and Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies

GS 3: Environmental Pollution & Degradation


CONTEXT:

1. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently ordered central and all state pollution control boards that scientific disposal of e-waste should be ensured as per rules citing huge gaps in compliance of electronic waste-management rules.

2. NGT has directed biomedical waste management facilities in the country to obtain authorisation from State pollution control boards to ensure compliance from the biomedical waste management facilities due to regular fines being imposed on various healthcare facilities and biomedical waste treatment facilities.

 

ABOUT ORDER RELATED TO E-WASTE MANAGEMENT:

1. To reduce damage to the public health, environment and meaningful enforcement of rule of law, all the state pollution control boards need to identify the hotspots by constant vigil and to coordinate with the District Administration at local levels.

2. Large number of accidents takes place in residential areas due to unscientific handling of e-waste, which needs special attention for constant vigilance in such hotspots.

3. Further steps should be taken for scientific enforcement of E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 (EWMR) in the light of the reports of the CPCB.

 

WHAT IS E-WASTE (Electronic-Waste)?

1. Old, end-of-life or discarded electronic appliances. It includes their components, consumables, parts and spares.

2. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) noted that India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.

3. E-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 7.82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.

4. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment held that 95% of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and scrap dealers unscientifically dispose of it by burning or dissolving it in acids.

5. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.

 

BIO-MEDICAL WASTE GUIDELINES

1. CPCB: Ensure strict compliance of biomedical waste management rules and scientific disposal of the waste.

2. The Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs to oversee compliance and ensure that authorisation is secured by every health care facility in their respective jurisdiction and there is adherence to the norms.

3. Groundwater contamination does not take place while permitting deep burials.

4. Hazardous bio-medical waste is not mixed with the general waste.

5. Frequent Violation of Rules: The direction came as a result of

6. Differentiation of COVID-19 biomedical waste from general garbage is a must to avoid further contamination adversely affecting public health.

Source: The Indian Express and The Hindu

 

 

6. Pakistan successfully tests medium-range missile

Preliminary: Current events of international importance


CONTEXT:

1. Pakistan has successfully test-fired the Shaheen-III missile.

ABOUT MISSILE:

1. Aimed at revalidating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system.

2. Nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile which can strike targets up to 2,750 km.

3. Pakistan is one of eight nations worldwide with stated nuclear weapons capability.

4. Its eastern neighbour and rival India, with whom it has fought three full-scale wars since both countries gained independence from Britain in 1947, also has nuclear weapons.

5. The Shaheen III is Pakistan’s longest-range missile system, developed with the intention of being capable of reaching Indian island territories to deny Indian forces the ability to establish a “second strike capability”.

6. Both South Asian countries routinely conduct missile tests, of which they notify the other in advance as per a 2005 bilateral missile test pact.

Source: The Hindu

 

 

7. TRIPURA CM PROMOTING THE RISA           

Preliminary: Current events of national importance


CONTEXT:

1. Risa is a customary hand woven cloth used by Tripura’s indigenous tribal communities.

2. It is one of the three parts of customary Tripura female attire, the other two being the Rignai and Rikutu.

3. The Risa is used as a head gear, stole and female upper cloth or presented to honour a distinguished recipient.

Source: Indian Express

 

 

8. RBI: Cost of green bonds issuance high in India

GS 3: Banking Sector


CONTEXT:

1. A study by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) noted that the cost of issuing green bonds has generally remained higher than other bonds in India, largely due to asymmetric information.

 

ABOUT:

1. The average coupon rate for green bonds issued since 2015 with maturities between 5 to 10 years have generally remained higher than the corporate and government bonds with similar tenure.

2. For the US dollar-denominated green bonds with tenure of more than or equal to 10 years, the coupon rate was, however lower than the corporate bonds.

3. It may be mentioned that most of the green bonds in India are issued by the public sector units 17 or corporates with better financial health.

4. It is evident from the fact that the private sector issuers of green bonds, on average, reported lower debt-to-assets ratio compared to the non-issuers of green bond.

5. Green bonds constituted only 0.7percen to fall the bonds issued in India since 2018, and bank lending to the non-conventional energy constituted about 7.9 percent of outstanding bank credit to the power sector, as of March 2020.

6. High borrowing cost has been perhaps the most important challenge and analysis indicates that it could be due to the asymmetric information

7. Therefore, developing a better information management system in India may help in reducing maturity mismatches, borrowing costs and lead to efficient resource allocation in this segment.

Source: The Indian Express

 

 

9. Govt planning to open up coal marketing to streamline process

GS 3: Mobilization, of resources, growth, development


CONTEXT:

1. The Government is considering opening up coal marketing.

ABOUT:

1. Currently, production by Coal India is allocated through a number of different methods, including multiple sector-based auctions and coal linkages based on recommendations by the Union government, and Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs).

2. India produced about 729 million tonnes of coal and imported about 248 million tonnes in the previous fiscal.

3. Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic production.

4. Freeing up of coal marketing would give an assurance to buyers that they will be able to get the product, if they want it, without having to go through multiple processes.

5. The government, in June 2020, opened up coal mining for commercial use.

Source: The Indian Express

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