IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 24th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
SC moves to make festivals less noisy
Part of: GS Mains II and III – Health issue; Pollution; Environmental concerns
- The article deals with right to public health.
- Supreme Court held that only green or improved crackers would be used during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
- It has fixed time limit – for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours: between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight.
- CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and PESO to make collaborative efforts for setting up of standards with regard to air pollution caused by the bursting of fire-crackers.
- The judgment said though the right to health was part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 and assumed “greater importance,” the “endeavour” of the court right now was to strive for a balance between the right to public health and the right to occupation of the industry.
Important Value Additions:
About Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)
- PESO is the apex department to control and administer manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other hazardous substances in India.
- It functions under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives
- It is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra.
- It is responsible for the administration of a host of laws pertaining to the regulation of explosives. These include the Explosives Act, 1884; the Inflammable Substances Act, 1952 and the Explosives Rules, 2008.
- The PESO has been testing samples of crackers only for adherence to the sound limit of 125 decibels at a distance of four meters.
Direct tax base widens sharply over 4 years, compliance rises
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III – Indian economy: Tax base
- The direct tax base has signiﬁcantly widened in the last few years, according to new back series data released by the government.
- The data showed a growth of more than 80% in the number of returns ﬁled in the last four ﬁnancial years from 3.79 crore in ﬁnancial year (FY) 201314 to 6.85 crore in FY 201718.
- Further, the number of persons ﬁling income tax returns also increased by about 65% during this period from 3.31 crore in FY 201314 to 5.44 crore in FY 201718.
- The data is showing higher level of compliance resulting from various legislative and administrative measures taken by the government, including eﬀective enforcement measures against tax evasion.
- The data also showed that the direct taxGDP ratio rose to 5.98% in FY 201718, the highest it has been in the last 10 years.
Some of the measures
- One, the eﬀect of demonetization.
- Two, the increase in the use of information being collected digitally and being used by the tax department.
- Three, the movement towards digital assessment and decrease in the number of cases being picked up for scrutiny, and
- Four, the ease of getting refund, majorly by small and medium taxpayers.
Xi opens world’s longest sea bridge
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International affairs
- Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated a 55-km bridge that will deepen the integration of Hong Kong and Macao with the rest of China.
- The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge will be at the heart of an integrated Greater Bay Area (GBA) covering 11 major neighbouring cities, which include Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
- The giant GBA is expected to rival the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S., as well as the Tokyo Bay Area of Japan.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Rural development; Government schemes and Policies
About Mission Antyodaya
- Mission Antyodaya is a convergence framework for measurable effective outcomes on parameters that transform lives and livelihoods.
- ‘Real Difference comes about through Convergence’ as it alone simultaneously addresses multi dimensions of poverty. Professionals, Institutions and Enterprises make it possible.
- Poverty Free India by 2022
WHY MISSION ANTYODAYA?
- Evidence of convergence reducing poverty, raising incomes – IRMA Study.
- ‘Communitization’ through Women SHGs improves education, health, nutrition indicators.
- Saturation approach creates many more ‘islands of success’
- Leveraging Bank loans promotes an enterprise model.
- Many initiatives provide for universal coverage of the eligible beneficiaries – Ujwala, SBM, PMAY, Skills, Power, Roads, internet, Bank accounts.
- Integral positive co-relation among infrastructure, human development and sustainable economic well-being.
- 5000 islands of successful Rural Clusters over 1000 days will be transformational.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Bilateral, regional or global agreements involving India and or affecting India’s interests
- Effects of policies of developed or developing countries on India’s interests
Outcomes versus promises
- Russian President’s visit to Delhi, came just a month after the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between India and US.
- Both the events were historic in India’s diplomatic history. There are challenges ahead for India to maintain a balance between the relations with respect to her own interests.
Summit versus dialogue
- The summit between the Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President is now an annual event, the protocol having been agreed upon by Mr. Putin and Manmohan Singh in 2005.
- Summits have often led to spectacular breakthroughs — in the 2009 meeting, the log-jam in the long pending sale to India of the Russian aircraft carrier, Gorshkov (since renamed Vikramaditya) could be resolved and, in the latest instance, the inking of the $5.4 billion S-400 Triumf missile defence system.
- The recent 2+2 Dialogue between India and the U.S., on the other hand, is a new concept.
- while it has been hailed as a path-breaking event paving the way for an avalanche of state-of-the art defence equipment from the U.S., the outcomes from this initial meet were clearly dwarfed by what took place during Mr. Putin’s visit.
- The 2+2 Dialogue — a format the U.S. employs with some of its closest allies including Japan and Australia — has given the impression that India has come within the U.S. orbit of influence, detaching itself further from Russia.
- This impression is further heightened by India signing on to the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) recently.
- On the other hand India still fancies a close relationship with Russia, one of its and most dependable allies.
- A comparison of the Russia-India summit outcome with the promises made during the 2+2 Dialogue can hardly be a true index of what lies in the future.
- The summit’s mega missile defence deal clearly took the shine off any promises made at the 2+2 Dialogue regarding future defence acquisitions from the U.S.
- Russia’s S-400 Triumf, possibly the best missile defence system in the world, comes with no strings attached.
- There is no Russian equivalent of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in place.
- The S-400 Triumf can be deployed against all enemies, irrespective of any other defence choices that India might have.
- India and Russia signed on to a document to expand civil nuclear energy cooperation and agreed on a second site for Russian nuclear reactors.
- They signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint programme in the field of human space-flight, enabling Indian astronauts to be trained in Russia.
- They also agreed on the virtues of a regional security architecture to provide security to all countries in Asia and in the regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This seemed to demonstrate a clear ‘mutuality of interests’.
Significance of 2+2 dialogue
- The 2+2 Dialogue, for its part, marks a paradigmatic change in the nature of India-U.S. relations.
- It hence needs to be viewed, more appropriately, as the culmination of a long-standing attempt by the U.S. to woo India, something that has been in the works for some time.
- As a prelude to this, the U.S. had renamed the Asia-Pacific as the Indo-Pacific.
- It had blocked more than $1.5 billion in U.S. security aid to Pakistan, allotting a mere $150 million in 2019.
- S.-India economic cooperation was stated to have grown exponentially within two decades, with the total goods and services trade between India and U.S. increasing from $11.2 billion in 1995 to $126.2 billion in 2017.
- S. foreign direct investment into India substantially increased during this period.
- The most important bait was India being accorded the status of a ‘major defence partner’.
- The underlying theme of the 2+2 Dialogue aimed at forging a possible containment of China strategy, with India partnering the U.S. in this effort.
- The U.S., at present, perceives China as posing a major challenge to its supremacy, and ‘the most significant threat to U.S. interest from a counter-intelligence perspective’.
Choices before India
- Differences in the outcomes of the Putin-Modi summit and the promises made in 2+2 dialogue are thus quite apparent.
- Russia was essentially seeking to cement a relationship with India that has existed for several years. It was not insisting on any exclusivity as far as relationships go.
- The U.S. wanted India to view foreign policy perspectives largely through a U.S. prism, and thereafter make a choice.
- Russia has already given a hint that it has the option of other choices, which might not exclude Pakistan.
- The situation is greatly complicated by the fact that the world today faces a post-Cold War situation.
- The rise of China’s economic power and its growing military might, and the re-emergence of Russia are significant pointers to this situation. The U.S., hence, no longer holds all the cards.
- Additionally, many existing precepts are undergoing changes. For example, the threat to the rules-based international order today comes as much from within existing democracies.
- India can hardly alienate Russia as it re-emerges as a key presence in Asia and Eurasia.
- Appearing to reject U.S. overtures, while the latter is seen making every effort to provide India with state-of-the art defence equipment, and acting in tandem with it in groupings such as the Quadrilateral, could prove short-sighted.
- India and China have differences on several issues, including problems at several points along the border between the two countries.
- There is also a subliminal struggle between them for the leadership of Asia.
- Nevertheless, neither India nor China appears ready for an open conflict as it would cost both countries dearly.
- India is also not unaware of a U.S. lack of resolve to actively resist China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea, and in preventing China from expanding its naval activities in the IOR.
- The abortive U.S. “pivot to Asia” is a stark reminder of the limitation of U.S. capabilities today.
- India needs to ponder deeply on what is in its best interests. It should not allow itself to be easily persuaded in the belief that democracies, by and large, offer better choices.
- It should not reject, without due consideration, what is in its best interest. Its decision needs to be dictated by the cold logic of circumstances.
- Strategic integrity and autonomy, and mature strategic judgment are required in a world where disruption is the order of the day.
Connecting the dots:
- While Russia is seeking to cement its relationship with India, the U.S. wants India to make strategic choices. How India can balance her relations with both the countries, without compromising her own interests?
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Environment and ecology
- Pollution and degradation
Recycle and build
- The growing menace of construction and demolition (C&D) waste in Indian cities has harmful effects on environment and public health.
- The municipal corporations, municipalities and other urban local bodies have the crucial responsibilities in responding to the challenge of the rapidly growing volume of C&D waste in India.
- It is their duty to build awareness among waste generators for the common cause of clean, healthy and sustainable cities.
Steps taken by respective governments
- C&D Waste Management Rules were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in March 2016.
- For these to be translated into action, municipal corporations, municipalities and other urban local bodies need to prepare waste management plans, notify bye-laws with penalties for non-compliance, and put in place enforcement mechanisms.
- Facilitating the recycling of C&D waste has to be an important plank of the waste management plans.
- All this is still a work in progress and there is wide variation across cities.
- Waste generators must be made aware of the nature of the hazard posed by C&D waste as cooperation from the community is critical for the success of the efforts of urban local bodies.
Hazards of C&D waste on environment and ecology
- C&D waste increases particulate matter in the air and leads to air pollution.
- Compared with municipal solid waste, it causes more traffic congestion and also pollution from dust.
- Water gets trapped in the debris, this becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and no amount of spraying can reach the hidden pockets of water.
- Lakes, stormwater drains, ponds and other water bodies get choked, the city becomes more vulnerable to floods.
- Dumping C&D waste in lakes for encroachment, a common practice in large cities, also results in loss of wetlands which are necessary for water purification.
Way forward: Disposal and recycling
- Local bodies should begin with the first basic principle of waste management that unmixed discards can almost all be put to use.
- The deconstruction of buildings enables a much larger recovery of unmixed materials for reuse than mechanical demolition.
- According to a report, manual demolition by hammer and pickaxe is the norm in northern India, primarily due to the higher rates of reuse of building materials, especially good quality whole bricks, and the low wage rate.
- For example, Mumbai requires all debris from repairs to be brought down from upper floors only in used cement bags, not loose, and stacked for rapid removal.
- An example of citizen cooperation is how housing societies in Mumbai encourage this by providing used sacks for a small fee, which covers the cost of transporting the waste off-site.
- A proactive effort on the part of the municipalities is called for to keep C&D waste off the roads, pavements and vacant sites and encourage its transport to recycling units.
- Bengaluru, while giving sanction to building plans, also collects ground rent for the use of pavement for storing C&D materials for 1-2 years of construction.
- Such pavement use should be limited to 2-3 months or until completion of the first slab and thereafter progressive escalation of the ground rent should be explored, to discourage on-site stacking of construction materials.
- Municipalities must also remove unauthorised dumpsites on vacant land — public or private — while recovering the cost of transporting the waste to the recycling plants through a penalty from the owner.
- Property tax on unfenced vacant sites should be the same as the tax on a ground floor building on a similar plot area, and interest must be charged on tax dues.
- Backward and forward linkages need to be forged with all recycling plants so that C&D waste reaches the recycling plants and there is an effective demand for the output from these plants.
- Government construction works can set an example by using the recycled products as prescribed in Sec 9 (4) of C&D Waste Management Rules (2016). Reputed builders can also take a lead in this respect.
- Following international practice, it is important to set standards and have quality certification for the recycled materials so that more and more builders are encouraged to use these materials and contribute to the cause of sustainable urban development.
- A proactive effort from municipalities and citizens towards recycling of construction and demolition waste will go a long way in curbing pollution.
Connecting the dots:
- Rapid urbanisation, though a symbol of development, has grave footprints on the environment and ecology. Examine the concerns related to construction and demolition waste; also suggest some measures to contain it.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements with regard to Ammonium Nitrate:
- It is not an explosive by itself.
- It is used as an ingredient for manufacture of explosives, anaesthetic gases, fertilizers, cold packs, etc.
- It is classified as an oxidizer as per UN classification for Dangerous Goods.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Consider the following statements about Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO)
- The PESO has been testing samples of crackers for all types of pollutions.
- It functions under Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
Q.3) Consider the following statements with reference to taxation
- Higher direct taxes help in controlling Inflation in the economy
- Higher indirect taxes help in controlling the Inflation in the economy
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Which of the following are the Direct taxes in India?
- Customs duty
- Security Transaction Tax
- Capital Gains Tax
- Professional Tax
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1, 2 and 3 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- 2, 3 and 4 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.5) With reference to India’s tax system, consider the following statements:
- Indian tax system is progressive.
- Corporation tax is the largest contributor among the taxes.
Which of the statements given above is/are true?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Outcomes versus promises
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