(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy
- The 43rd GST Council met under the Chairmanship of Union Finance Minister recently.
The GST Council has made the following recommendations:
- As a COVID-19 relief measure, a number of specified COVID-19 related goods such as medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators and other oxygen storage and transportation equipment, etc., have been recommended for full exemption from IGST.
- In view of rising Black Fungus cases, the exemption from IGST has been extended to Amphotericin B.
- To support the LympahticFilarisis (an endemic) elimination programme being conducted in collaboration with WHO, the GST rate on Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets has been recommended for reduction to 5% (from 12%).
- GST on MRO services in respect of ships/vessels shall be reduced to 5% (from 18%).
- Amnesty scheme for small GST taxpayer’s was also announced, allowing filing of returns with reduced late fees.
- Annual return filing has also been simplified.
- The Council has recommended amending the CGST Act to allow for self-certification of reconciliation statements, instead of getting it certified by Chartered Accountants.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Infrastructure; Economy
- Union Ministry of Power has transferred the 220 kV Srinagar-Drass-Kargil-Khaltsi-Leh Transmission System to Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID), a Maharatna CPSU of Government of India.
- The transmission system was commissioned in February 2019.
- It connects the Ladakh region to the national grid, ensuring quality and reliable power supply.
- It is built at a height of around 3000-4000 meters and 335-km long
- The project was executed by POWERGRID on consultancy basis under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) Scheme.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Welfare schemes
- Ministry of Education has approved the proposal to provide monetary assistance to 11.8 Crore students through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the cooking cost component of the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme, to all eligible children, as a special welfare measure.
- This will give a fillip to the Midday Meal programme.
Government of India had also announced distribution of free-of-cost food grains @ 5 Kg per person per month to nearly 80 Crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
Important value additions
- The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 1995.
- Objective: To enhance enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improve nutritional levels among children.
- In 2001 it became a cooked Mid Day Meal Scheme.
- The Scheme covers children of classes I-VIII studying in government, government-aided schools, special training centres (STC) and madarsas/ maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
- It is the largest school feeding programme in the world.
- It is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations & GS-III – Economy
- Bangladesh’s central bank has approved a $200 million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka.
- It will help Sri Lanka in its foreign exchange crisis.
- A currency swap is effectively a loan that Bangladesh will give to Sri Lanka in dollars, with an agreement that the debt will be repaid with interest in Sri Lankan rupees.
- For Sri Lanka, this is cheaper than borrowing from the market.
- The period of the currency swap will be specified in the agreement.
- This may be the first time that Bangladesh is extending a helping hand to another country.
- It is also the first time that Sri Lanka is borrowing from a SAARC country other than India.
Sri Lanka didn’t approach India because
- India-Sri Lanka relations have been tense over Sri Lanka’s decision to cancel a valued container terminal project at Colombo Port.
- Last July, RBI had extended a $400 million credit swap facility to Sri Lanka, which was settled in February.
- The arrangement was not extended.
- RBI has a framework under which it can offer credit swap facilities to SAARC countries within an overall corpus of $2 billion.
- The SAARC currency swap facility came into operation in November 2012.
International ENI award 2020
- Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao has received the International Eni Award 2020 for research into renewable energy sources and energy storage.
- It is also called the Energy Frontier award.
- The official ceremony will be held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome.
- The award has become internationally recognized over the years in the field of energy and environmental research.
- It aims to promote better use of energy sources and encourage new generations of researchers in their work.
- This is considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Context: Over the last few weeks, public anger has been simmering in the Lakshadweep islands over a number of controversial proposals floated by the Union Territory Administrator.
Some of the proposals include:
- Cow slaughter & beef
- PROPOSAL: An order from the Administration seeks to ban the slaughter of cow, calf, bull and buffalo without a certificate from a competent authority. It prohibits the sale, transport and storage of beef and beef products. Penalties include a jail term up to one year and a fine of Rs 10,000. The Administration has not provided an explanation on why the rule was brought in.
- PROTEST: Residents view the rule as a direct infringement on their culture and eating habits. They allege the rule was decided without consultation with local bodies.
- Two-child policy
- PROPOSAL: Under the Draft Panchayat Regulation 2021, the Administration aims to bar people with more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat. For those who already have more than two children, the regulation does not disqualify them provided they do not have further children after the date on which the rule comes into effect.
- PROTEST: Locals have questioned the motive. The NCP and the Congress too have opposed the move.
- Serving liquor to tourists
- PROPOSAL: The Administration has decided to allow liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands. Currently, prohibition is in place on all inhabited islands, with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram island. Collector S Asker Ali clarified that liquor permits would be given only to resorts for tourists, not for locals.
- PROTEST: Residents have alleged that the move will lead to a proliferation of liquor sales on the island, which had been observing near-prohibition until now.
- Land acquisition powers
- PROPOSAL: The Administration brought in a draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) to oversee development of towns on the islands, with sweeping changes in the way land can be acquired and utilised. It talks of declaration of ‘planning areas’ and constitution of ‘planning and development authorities’ for preparing a land use map and register, ostensibly for large projects.
- PROTEST: Residents have protested against the way it was prepared and pushed through without consultation. They fear large infrastructure and tourism projects can destabilise the ecology, and that the notification gives powers to the Administration to remove small landholdings of ST residents.
- Covid-19 SOPs
- PROPOSAL: For a year, Lakshadweep did not record any case of Covid-19 , thanks to stringent quarantine protocols and testing of inbound travellers. Last December, Covid-19 SOPs were diluted by doing away with mandatory quarantine for travellers at Kochi and Kavaratti. Instead, anyone with a negative RT-PCR certificate issued in the previous 48 hours could travel to Lakshadweep. The Administration said the SOPs were changed in accordance with Home Ministry rules and to allow for reopening of the economy.
- PROTEST: The change led to the island losing its ‘green zone’ tag and a spurt in infections in subsequent months. As of May 28, the Union Territory has reported over 7,300 cases and 28 deaths. Islanders blame the Administration for mismanagement in handling of the pandemic.
While the UT Administration has said Patel’s proposals are aimed at ensuring safety and well-being of residents along with promoting the islands as a tourist destination on par with the Maldives, residents view them as ripping the social and cultural fabric of the islands.
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
- GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations.
Context: The February 1 military coup in Myanmar (third such coup in Myanmar’s History) has led to countrywide civil disobedience movement against ruling military power. Military regained power because they feared that after the resounding electoral victory, Aung San Suu Kyi may move to curb the military’s powers.
Did You Know?
- The 2008 Constitution of Myanmar secures a special place to the military, in that 25% of the seats in parliament and local legislatures are reserved for them, as indeed key ministries like Home, Defence and Border Affairs.
- The Constitution also disqualifies persons with foreign spouses from becoming president.
Implications of the Coup for India
- Erodes Progress made in last decade: The quasi-democratic experiment that Myanmar had started a decade back has now been aborted. India was champion of Democracy in Myanmar and had provided guidance in its Democratic transition.
- Rise of China: The growing international isolation of Myanmar government led by the Army could once again push the country into dependence on China.
- Obstacles in Foreign Policy Agenda: Recent developments in Myanmar pose a serious policy challenge to India. Myanmar is an important element for the success of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’, ‘Act East’, and ‘Indo-Pacific’ policies
- Border & Regional Security: The political instability in the post-coup period is expected to divert the attention of the Myanmar Army from its periphery and its borders. This may create tensions at border areas in India (refugees, insurgents, illegal movements)
- Delayed Connectivity Projects: Peace in Chin and Rakhine states of Myanmar is essential for the completion of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway project. The political instability slows down these connectivity projects further delaying the sub-regional integration
- Refugee Issue: The refugee influx from Myanmar to Manipur and Mizoram (due to common ethnic links and family ties) is a matter of concern for India due to Political instability in Myanmar
- India expressed its concerns that the democratic gains made by Myanmar over the previous decades should not be undermined.
- India reiterated its “support to the process of democratic transition” and assured that India’s developmental and humanitarian efforts in Myanmar aimed at the socio-economic development of the country will continue.
- India’s envoy to UN told to UNHRC that the rule of law and democratic processes in Myanmar must be upheld and the detained political leaders released
As a non-permanent member of the UNSC during 2021-2022, India can play an important role with other partners like Vietnam in building international opinion, given that Vietnam is also a UNSC non-permanent member this year. If a supportive international environment is built up through the UN and ASEAN, the military in Myanmar could be encouraged to return to the democratic road map.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
- Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.
Q.1 Which of the following is exempted from GST:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Coffee beans (non roasted)
- Betel leaves
Select the correct code:
- 1, 2, and 3 only
- 2 and 4 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding mid day meal scheme:
- The Scheme covers children of classes 1st-12th studying in government, government-aided schools, special training centres (STC) and madarsas/ maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
- It is not covered under by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Which of the above is or are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Consider the following Benefits of currency swap agreements:
- These swap operations carry no exchange rate or other market risks, as transaction terms are set in advance.
- It reduces the risk of volatility against the third currency.
- It does away with the charges involved in multiple currency exchanges.
- It would discourage speculative attacks on the domestic currency.
Which of the above is or are correct?
- 1, 2, and 3 only
- 2 and 4 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
ANSWERS FOR 28th May 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On RBI’s fund transfer:
On Tokyo Olympics:
About India-Nepal relation amidst Political turmoil in Nepal: