IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 3rd November 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Iran oil: India to get U.S. sanctions waiver
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations
- Eight countries will be given exemptions, once U.S. sanctions against Iran kick in on November 5.
- India — for whom Iran is the third largest source of oil after Iraq and Saudi Arabia — is expecting to be on the list.
Loans for MSMEs in 59 minutes
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Govt schemes and policies; Good Governance; Indian Economy – Investment; MSME sector
- PM Modi announced 12 measures to boost the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, including a portal that would enable the units to get a loan in just 59 minutes and interest subvention of 2%.
- Small businesses can use the ‘59-minute’ portal to avail loans of up to Rs 1 crore.
- Small enterprises registered under the goods and services tax will also get a 2 percent tax rebate on incremental loans of up to Rs 1 crore.
- More than 72,000 loans worth over Rs 23,852 crore have been sanctioned.
- The portal is set up by the Small Industries Development Bank of India. MSMEs can register and apply for a loan.
The prime minister unveiled 12 initiatives for MSMEs, which he called “Diwali gifts”. They are:
- Loans for MSMEs up to Rs 1 crore can be granted in 59 minutes, which can also be availed through goods and services tax portal.
- A 2 percent interest subvention will be given on incremental and new loans to GST-registered MSMEs. For exporters who receive loans in pre- and post-shipment period, an increase in interest rebate has been given from 3-5 percent.
- All public-sector companies and corporates with turnover exceeding Rs 500 crore will have to mandatorily register on Trade Receivables Electronic Discounting System portal. This will improve the cash cycle for MSMEs as it will enable entrepreneurs to access credit from banks, based on their upcoming receivables.
- Public-sector undertakings will have to buy their 25 percent of their inputs from MSMEs from 20 percent earlier.
- Of the 25 percent, 3 percent of procurement will have to done by women entrepreneurs or women-led MSMEs.
- All central public sector enterprises will have to come on board of Government e-Marketplace so that they can procure goods from MSMEs listed on the portal.
- Technology upgradation support will be given to MSMEs. About 20 technological centres will be made as hubs and 100 centres as tool rooms will be created at the cost of Rs 6,000 crore.
- Clusters will be created for pharma MSME companies so that they can reach customers directly. About 70 percent of the cost for creating these clusters will be borne by the central government.
- MSMEs will have to file only one return under eight labour laws and 10 central rules against two returns earlier.
- Inspection would be done based on computerised random allotment and report of inspection will have to be submitted within 48 hours on the reporting portal. This will free MSMEs from Inspector Raj (regime), Modi said.
- Process of environmental clearance has been simplified, and MSME will require only one approval for “environmental clearance” and “consent to establish” under Air and Water Act.
- Ordinance has been approved for simplifying levy of penalty for minor offences under Companies Act. This will avoid unnecessary harassment to small business owners, and they won’t have to approach courts, but can correct minor violations through simple procedures.
China Pakistan: Growing Ties
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II –International Relations
- Pakistan is expected to receive a $6 bn aid package from China during PM Imran’s visit.
- Pakistan’s Prime Minister has reinforced Islamabad’s bonds with Saudi Arabia, and has kept the door open for the re-entry of West-backed International Monetary Fund (IMF) into his country.
- Analysts point out that China needs Pakistan’s full support to make the CPEC a success.
- China has billed the $62 billion project as the flagship undertaking of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
NASA’s historic Dawn mission comes to an end
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Space mission
- Earlier we read about retirement of NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission.
- Now NASA’s pioneering Dawn spacecraft — which orbited the two largest objects in the asteroid belt — has run out of fuel, ending a 11-year mission that unravelled many mysteries of our solar system.
- The $467 million Dawn mission, launched in 2007 to study the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network on October 31 and November 1.
- The astounding images and data collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions
A catalogue of all that’s valuable
- In the recent times there has been growing incidents loss of artefacts, historical idols and antiquities in the state of Tamil Nadu.
- Tamil Nadu is rich feeding ground for idol thieves and smugglers because of the sheer number of temples within its borders.
Madras HC on this issue
- The Madras High Court constituted a special bench to hear cases relating to idol theft.
- The court raised the concerns related to the lack of coordination between departments responsible for custodianship of cultural heritage and law enforcement agencies.
- HC also noted that the department has not computerised the stock, provided adequate ICON Centres with surveillance to keep safe custody of the valuable idols in the Centre and in the temples.
- Madras HC also raised concerns related to the management of the historical artefacts in India, importantly about lack of coordination and lack of surveillance measures.
- Because of these concerns the Madras HC ordered the state government to go for computerisation of the stock of the idols.
Steps taken by the government
- The parliament of India passed an Act, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, focussing mainly the objectives of prevention of smuggling, prevent illegal sale, regulate export trade in antiquities and compulsory acquisition of antiquities and art treasures.
- National mission on monuments and antiquities (NMMA) has been launched. One of the main components of this NMMA is to create a national register of these antiquities.
- Nodal agency for implementation of NMMA is Archaeological survey of India.
Concerns still remain
- The problem of non-coordination and lack of information among government departments as highlighted by the Madras High Court still remain a concern across India.
- While the Ministry of Culture’s annual report for 2017-18 states that a mammoth 15.2 lakh registered antiquities have been documented through the NMMA, the Register only provides information for about 4.7 lakh of these.
- Thus, different states needs to co-ordinate their effort in terms of identification and then preservation of such artefacts
- National register for antiquities must be updated for these valuables artefacts.
- Also, there is a need for timely action to be taken by the concerned government departments for identification and preservation of our cultural heritage.
Connecting the dots:
- State and public initiatives to compile registers of antiquities must be closely coordinated to control the smuggling and theft. Elucidate
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Government policies and interventions
- Economic Growth and Development
India’s ranking in the latest edition of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index has jumped 23 spots to 77 among 190 economies. It is a substantial improvement over the last couple of years.
Analysis of Index and India’s performance
- The Index seeks to measure 11 areas of business, among them the procedures, timelines and cost related to construction, protection of minority investors, payments of tax, time and cost to export a product or import it and to resolve commercial dispute, the quality of the judicial process and time taken and the cost for resolution or insolvency.
- India’s score was boosted this time because of the strides in cross-border trading with the streamlining of paper work and documentation — the country’s score has moved up from 146 last year on this count to 80 this time.
- The scores should improve further next time with recognition of the laws on GST and more companies taking the resolution route under the insolvency.
- The other area of improvement is in construction permits. All these underline the importance of supply-side reforms.
- The other important take away from the Index is that what is common among the top-ranked economies is the pattern of continuous reform.
- India has considerable ground to cover on this front: When it comes to enforcing contracts, the country’s score has barely moved in the latest ranking.
What more needs to be done?
- The lesson here is the absence of judicial reforms, bureaucratic and legal hurdles are hurting the economy.
- In a federal structure like India, cutting the red tape or easing procedures across states is not easy.
- However, the signs are that many states have recognised the need to remove hurdles to attract industry.
- Businessmen complain about the steep cost of doing business and the constraints they face in translating ideas into viable commercial ventures.
- As the World Bank points out, economies with better business regulations are the ones that create more job opportunities and the countries with more transparent and accessible information have lower levels of corruption.
- It is good to benchmark the country’s progress on various counts of starting a business, but it is also important not to lose sight of the fact that this does not measure macro stability policies and development of the financial sector.
- The boost to ranking has come at a time when investment activity is far from vibrant.
- The key is a revival in demand, but removing systemic constrains would help business and industry become more competitive.
Connecting the dots:
- Supply-side reforms boost India’s profile, but red tape and opaque systems continue to pull back growth. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) From the following, identify the categories which are included under Priority Sector Lending:
- Export Credit
- Renewable Energy
- Social Infrastructure
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 3 and 4
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.2) Consider the following statements about Dawn spacecraft
- It was launched as a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program
- It was launched with the mission of studying two of dwarf planet of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres
Select the correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
How not to choose among allies
A judgment and its aftermath
Green crackers make Sivakasi see red
Whose RBI is it?
Plain tales from the hills