Current Affairs, 25 October 2018

Current Affairs, 25 October 2018


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: ICAI- key facts.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and Certified Professional Accountants Afghanistan (CPA Afghanistan).

  • The MoU will establish mutual co-operation framework in the areas of Capacity Building of “Afghanistan Accountancy Board (AAB)”, strengthening the IT Capacity and Quality Assurance in Afghanistan through facilitating Knowledge Transfer; Students and Members Exchange Programs; Conduct of Seminars, Conferences and Joint Activities mutually beneficial to both the parties.

 

About ICAI:

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament of India, ‘The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949′, to regulate the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India.

  • ICAI is the second largest professional Accounting & Finance body in the world.
  • ICAI is the only licensing cum regulating body of the financial audit and accountancy profession in India.
  • It recommends the accounting standards to be followed by companies in India to National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS).
  • ICAI is solely responsible for setting the Standards on Auditing (SAs) to be followed in the audit of financial statements in India.
  • ICAI is one of the founder members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA), and Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA).

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Appellate Tribunals against Benami Transactions

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About Appellate tribunal, composition and functions.
  • For Mains: Benami transactions- challenges, issues and measures to prevent such transactions.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of Appellate Tribunal and Adjudicating Authority for speedy disposal of cases related to benami transactions.

 

Background:

Earlier the cabinet had notified sessions courts in 34 states and Union Territories, which will act as special courts for trial of offences under the benami transaction law. The rules and all the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act came into force on November 1, 2016.

 

Salient Features:

  • Under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act of 1998, the government will appoint Adjudicating Authority Appellate Tribunal.
  • The officials will come from the existing posts at the same level from the Income Tax Department and the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
  • The Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal will be based in the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD).
  • Benches of Adjudicating Authority may sit in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, and the necessary notification in this regard will be issued after consultation with the Chairperson of the proposed Adjudicating Authority.

 

Benefits of the Tribunals:

  • The approval will result in effective and better administration of cases referred to the Adjudicating Authority and speedy disposal of appeals filed against the order of the Adjudicating Authority before the Appellate Tribunal.
  • It would provide first stage review of administrative action under the PBPT Act. Establishment of the proposed Appellate Tribunal would provide an appellate mechanism for the order passed by the Adjudicating Authority under the PBPT Act.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

‘Main Nahin Hum’ portal

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the portal.

 

Context: The government has launched ‘Main Nahin Hum’ portal for IT professionals.

 

About ‘Main Nahin Hum’ portal and its significance:

  • The portal, which works on the theme ‘Self4Society’, will enable IT professionals and organisations to bring together their efforts towards social causes on one platform. The platform has been developed by MyGov.
  • The portal will also help the employees in identifying the volunteering opportunities for social causes and they can also collaborate with other employees on such projects.
  • In doing so, the portal is expected to help catalyse greater collaboration towards the service of the weaker sections of society, especially by leveraging the benefits of technology.
  • It is also expected to generate wider participation of interested people who are motivated to work for the benefit of society.

 

Way ahead:

Since India has already become the third largest in terms of the start-up, social start-ups should become an intrinsic part of the ecosystem. Some of areas which require participation are saving natural resources such as water, agriculture, climate change etc.

 

Sources: pib.

 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Chabahar Port

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Location of Chabahar port.
  • For Mains: Significance of the port for India, Challenges to its development.

 

Context: India, Afghanistan and Iran recently held their first trilateral meeting on Chabahar port project during which they reviewed its implementation. The meeting assumes significance as the strategically-located port on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast was coming under the ambit of US sanctions on Tehran.

 

Outcomes of the meeting:

The meeting decided to constitute a follow-up committee that would hold its first meeting within two months in Chabahar port. The committee would discuss and aim to finalise protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs.

 

Where is Chabahar port?

Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.

 

Why Chabahar port is crucial for India?

The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.

  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  • With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  • Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

MoU amongst BRICS nations regarding cooperation in the social and labour sphere

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About BRICS and its summits.
  • For Mains: Highlights and significance of MoU.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, South Africa, regarding Cooperation in the Social and Labour Sphere. The MoU was signed on 3rd August, 2018 during BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers (LEM) Meeting.

 

As per the MoU:

  • The parties including India have agreed to cooperate and hold mutual events in the prominent areas viz. labour legislation and enforcement, protection of workers’ rights with focus on vulnerable groups, Employment and labour market policies, Professional education, skills and training and Social protection.
  • The member countries may utilize the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes and BRICS Social Security Cooperation Framework for cooperation on Social Security and other labour issues.

However, the Memorandum is not an International Treaty and does not create rights and obligations for the parties governed by international law.

 

Significance and major Impacts:

  • The MoU provides a mechanism for cooperation, collaboration and maximum synergy amongst BRICS member countries with the common objective of inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the new industrial revolution.
  • This would facilitate member countries to share knowledge and also implement joint programmes on matter of Labour and Employment, Social Security and Social dialogue.
  • This would also ensure networking of international Training Centre of International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the BRICS Network of Labour Institutes which includes V.V. Giri National Labour Institute of India. This network would specifically focus on the theme of youth employment and research on new forms of employment. This network will also explore new learning technologies, including virtual network to deepen cooperation, exchange of information and capacity building.
  • The BRICS Social Security cooperation framework will deepen social security cooperation among BRICS nations and would facilitate cooperation for improvement of social security systems and social security agreements among member countries.

 

What is BRICS?

BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Summits: The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually with discussions representing spheres of political and socio-economic coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.

Chairship: The Chairship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S. Over and above the summit, BRICS cooperation in the past decade has expanded to include an annual programme of over 100 sectoral meetings. Cooperation among members is predicated on three levels or “tracks” of interaction, namely:

  • Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments.
  • Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils.
  • Track III: Civil society and “people-to-people” engagement.

 

Facts for Prelims:

  • The First BRIC Summit was held in June 2009 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
  • The Ninth BRICS Summit was held in Xiamen, China under the theme “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”. The leaders built on achievements already made with a share vision for future development of BRICS, discussed international and regional issues of common concern and adopted the Xiamen Declaration.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of FIDF.

 

Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation of special  Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF).

  • The approval entails an estimated fund size of Rs.7,522 crore, comprising Rs.5,266.40 crore to be raised by the Nodal Loaning Entities (NLEs), Rs. 1,316.6 crore beneficiaries contribution and Rs.939.48 crore budgetary support from the Government of India.
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and all scheduled Banks (hereinafter referred as Banks) shall be the nodal Loaning Entities.

 

Benefits- it helps in:

  • Creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and Inland fisheries sectors.
  • Employment opportunities to over 9.40 lakh fishers/fishermen/fisherfolk and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.
  • Attracting private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
  • Adoption of new technologies.
  • Augmenting fish production to achieve its target of 15 million tonne by 2020 set under the Blue Revolution; and achieving a sustainable growth of 8% -9% thereafter to reach the fish production to the level of about 20 MMT by 2022-23.

 

Funds:

FIDF would provide concessional finance to State Governments / UTs and State entities, cooperatives, individuals and entrepreneurs etc., for taking up of the identified investment activities of fisheries development.  Under FIDF, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

National Monitoring Framework on Sustainable Development Goals

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: All about SDGs, key facts on National Monitoring Framework.
  • For Mains: Significance of SDGs and ways to achieve them, efforts by India.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the constitution of a High Level Steering Committee for periodically reviewing and refining the National Indicator Framework (NIF) for monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with associated targets.

 

Composition of the committee:

  • The High Level Steering Committee will be chaired by Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
  • Special invitees: The Secretaries of data source Ministriesand NITI Aayogas members and Secretaries of other related Ministries.

 

Targets:

  • Measures to mainstream SDGs into on-going national policies, programmes and strategic action plans to address the developmental challenges.
  • Statistical indicators of NIF will be the backbone of monitoring of SDGs at the national and state level and will scientifically measure the outcomes of the policies to achieve the targets under different SDGs.
  • Based on statistical indicator, the MoSPI will bring out national reports on implementation of SDGs. The Report will facilitate assessment of progress, identify challenges and give recommendations for follow up at the national level.
  • High Level Steering Committee will review the National Indicator Framework on regular basis for its improvement.
  • Data source Ministries / Departments will be responsible for providing regular information to MoSPI on these indicators at required intervals and disaggregation for national and sub-national reporting of SDGs.
  • Advanced IT tools will be used for close and effective monitoring.

 

Significance of the framework:

SDGs with 17 Goals and 169 Targets intend for promotion of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

  • NIF will help in outcome-based monitoring & reportingon progress on SDGs at National level. There is no direct financial implication on implementation of the National Indicator Framework. However, the respective Ministries will need to re-align and strengthen their data systemsto facilitate monitoring of the SDG indicators.
  • SDGs are expected to bring change in the lives of people and the monitoring of progress of implementation of SDGs will benefit the entire nation.

 

About SDGs:

  • The UN General Assembly in its 70thSession considered and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) for the next 15 years.
  • The 17 SDGs came into force with effect from 1stJanuary, 2016.
  • Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations and have potential to reorient domestic spending priorities of the countries during the next fifteen years.
  • Countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these Goals. Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.
  • Countries would be responsible for follow-up and review at the national level, with regard to the progress made in implementing the Goals and targets. Actions at the national level to monitor progress under SDGs will require quality, accessible and timely data.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

BS Norms

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: BS Norms and composition.
  • For Mains: BS norms- implementation- issues, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has banned the sale and registration of motor vehicles conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage-IV in the entire country from April 1, 2020.

 

What are BS norms?

The BS — or Bharat Stage — emission standards are norms instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, though with a time-lag of five years.

 

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur. The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 per cent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm. As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.

 

Why is it important to upgrade these norms?

Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world. The national capital’s recent odd-even car experiment and judicial activism against the registration of big diesel cars shows that governments can no longer afford to relax on this front.

With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, these reforms can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

 

The government could face two key challenges in implementing the decision:

  • First, there are questions about the ability of oil marketing companies to quickly upgrade fuel quality from BS-III and BS-IV standards to BS-VI, which is likely to cost upwards of Rs 40,000 crore.
  • Second, and more challenging, is the task of getting auto firms to make the leap. Automakers have clearly said that going to BS-VI directly would leave them with not enough time to design changes in their vehicles, considering that two critical components — diesel particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction module — would have to be adapted to India’s peculiar conditions, where running speeds are much lower than in Europe or the US.

 

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