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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th August 2021

  • IASbaba
  • August 14, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


AB-PMJAY and COVID treatment

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Health 

In news Under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY), the Union government’s health insurance scheme, approximately 20.32 la7kh COVID-19 tests and 7.08 lakh treatments were authorised from April 2020 to July 2021.

  • The cover allowed beneficiaries to avail free testing and treatment across all empanelled hospitals — both public and private.
  • Besides this, State governments were provided with the flexibility of modifying the Ayushman packages as per the local requirements. 

About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) 

  • This scheme is a Centrally sponsored scheme with some Central sector components.
  • PMJAY offers a sum insured of 5 lakh per family for secondary care (which doesn’t involve a super specialist) as well as tertiary care.  For the beneficiaries, this is a free scheme.
  • It is an entitlement-based scheme that targets the beneficiaries as identified by latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
  • Individuals can walk into any empanelled hospital that can process cashless payments.
  • Once identified by the database, the beneficiary is considered insured.
  • The insurance cost is shared by the centre and the state mostly in the ratio of 60:40.
  • There are about 1,400 packaged rates for various medical procedures under the scheme.
  • These packaged rates also mention the number of average days of hospitalization for a medical procedure and supporting documents that are needed.
  • Under no circumstances can hospitals charge the beneficiary. The scheme also has prescribed a daily limit for medical management.
  • National Health Agency has been constituted as an autonomous entity under the Society Registration Act, 1860 for effective implementation of PMJAY in alliance with state governments.
    • This includes formulation of PMJAY policies, development of operational guidelines, implementation mechanisms, coordination with state governments, monitoring and oversight of PMJAY amongst other.

News Source: TH


Sovereign Right to Taxation

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – Fiscal policy

In news Recently, the Government of India introduced The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha which seeks to withdraw tax demands made using a 2012 retrospective legislation to tax the indirect transfer of Indian assets.

  • The government has stressed the need to establish its sovereign right to taxation.

What is Sovereignty

  • Sovereignty, in political theory, means the ultimate overseer, or authority, in the decision-making process of the state and in the maintenance of order.
  • The term was originally understood to mean the equivalent of supreme power.
  • Constitutional Sovereignty implies that the constitution is sovereign and supreme.

Sovereign Right to Taxation in India

  • In India, the Constitution gives the government the right to levy taxes on individuals and organisations, but makes it clear that no one has the right to levy or charge taxes except by the authority of law.
  • Any tax being charged has to be backed by a law passed by the legislature or Parliament (Article 265).

Taxation in India

  • Tax is a pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government, a payment exacted by legislative Authority. 
  • A tax is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution. 
  • Taxes in India come under a three-tier system based on the Central, State and local governments. 
  • The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution puts separate heads of taxation under the Union and State list.
  • There is no separate head under the Concurrent list, meaning Union and the States have no concurrent power of taxation

News Source: IE


Open Acreage Licensing Programme

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Infrastructure

In news In an attempt to boost domestic hydrocarbon production, the petroleum and natural ministry launched the sixth bid round under the liberal Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP).

  • Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Policy framework on reforms in the exploration and licensing sector for enhancing domestic exploration and production of oil and gas.

About Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replacing the erstwhile New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was approved in March 2016. 
  • The Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) along with the National Data Repository (NDR) were launched in June 2017 as the key drivers to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
  • Under OALP, companies are allowed to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in.
  • Companies can put in an expression of interest (EOI) for any area throughout the year but such interests are accumulated thrice in a year. 
  • The areas sought are then offered for bidding.
  • This policy is different from the past where the government identified areas and offered them for bidding.

What is Need of the Policy? 

  • India is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. 
  • It is the third largest consumer of petroleum products after the US and China.
  • India is heavily dependent on import of crude oil to meet its energy needs.
  • Net imports of crude oil have increased from 111.50 metric tons during 2006-07 to 202.85 metric tons during 2015-16.
  • In this backdrop, India has set a target to reduce dependence on crude oil imports by 10% by 2022.

What are the Benefits involved? 

  • Increase in Exploration
  • Removal of Red-Tapism

News Source: PIB


(News from PIB)


Vehicle Scrappage Policy 

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Vehicle Scrappage Policy in India on Friday, 13 August, at the Gujarat Investor Summit and requested youths and start-ups to join the programme.

What is the policy?

  • Personal vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years will have to undergo a fitness test at government registered ‘automated fitness centres’.
  • Vehicles that fail to pass the test will be declared as ‘end-of-life vehicles’ meaning that they would have to be recycled. Thus, paving the way for older vehicles to be scrapped. 
  • In case, the vehicles pass the test, the owners will have to pay a hefty fee for re-registration that would be hiked to around eight times for personal vehicles, and around 20 times for commercial vehicles.
  • The policy is a “waste-to-wealth mission and an important part of the circular economy that will reduce pollution in our cities and also reflect the government’s commitment towards rapid development. 
  • The policy will also bring investments worth more than Rs 10,000 crore and, in the process, create employment opportunities for thousands of youngsters.

News Source:  PIB


Operation Blue Freedom

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: Recently, The Government of India has permitted a team of people with disabilities to scale Siachen Glacier. The team of people with disabilities trained by ‘Team CLAW’ a team of Armed Forces veterans.

  • The selected people with disabilities from across the country will undertake an expedition till Kumar Post (Siachen Glacier) to create a new World Record for the largest team of people with disabilities to reach the world’s highest battlefield.
  • The successful execution of this pioneering expedition, ‘Operation Blue Freedom’, shall firmly place India on the global stage as a leader in empowering Divyangjan and set a benchmark for other nations to emulate. 

News Source:  PIB


(Mains Focus)


SECURITY/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

An Indian sail to navigate the maritime environment

In news: PM Modi’s address on August 9 at the UNSC High-Level Open Debate on “Enhancing Maritime Security: A Case For International Cooperation”.

  • He described the oceans as a common heritage for humankind and a lifeline for the future of the planet.

Need for Maritime Security

  • With a long coastline and large island chains spread across the Indian Ocean, India has a natural seaward orientation, with key sea lanes of communication coursing through its surrounding seas.
  • 90% of global trade is conducted on the high seas, for the simple reason that it continues to be the most cost effective mode of transport.
  • Disruption of sea lanes of communication has National and global economic repercussions. 
  • Freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce are key to the spread of prosperity.
  • India’s natural interests stretch across both the Indian and Pacific Oceans as reflected in its inclusive Indo-Pacific vision.

During the debate, PM Modi outlined 5 principles needed for global maritime security. The principles are 

  1. Removing barriers from legitimate maritime trade, 
  2. Encouraging responsible maritime connectivity, 
  3. Settling maritime disputes through peaceful means and on the basis of international law, 
  4. Jointly facing natural disasters and maritime threats created by non-state actors.
  5. Preserving the maritime environment and resources.

Primacy of UNCLOS

  • As President of the UN Security Council for the month of August, India’s leadership in the debate on maritime security, that too at the level of the Prime Minister, has strengthened its credentials as a key stake-holder in the maritime commons. 
  • The Presidential Statement issued on the occasion highlights the commitment of the UN Security Council to international law. 
  • More relevantly, it emphasises the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as the legal framework governing all maritime activity.

Conclusion

India’s natural interests stretch across both the Indian and Pacific Oceans as reflected in its inclusive Indo-Pacific vision. No doubt, India’s initiative will further the prospects for a stable and enduring maritime environment.

Connecting the dots:


AGRICULTURE/ SCIENCE & TECH/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues of food security; Technology missions 
  • GS-3: Science & Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • GS-:2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

GM soy meal import

In news Union government has decided to allow the import of crushed genetically modified (GM) soybean, which is a major ingredient of poultry feed. 

  • GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

Need for the decision

  • The poultry industry has been crushed by multiple disasters over the last year and a half. 
  • In January 2020, a false rumour that COVID-19 could be spread by eating chicken meat led to a crash in demand 
  • A year later, avian flu cases led to another crash, followed by a crippling rise in the prices of poultry feed.
  • Rise in soybean process in domestic Indian market had led to the skyrocketing of input costs which led to increase in prices of chicken products in the retail market. Therefore, the demand for import of GM Soya seeds.

About Soy meal and its GM variant

  • Soy meal is left over after oil is extracted from the bean. 
  • It is the main protein ingredient in the feed, especially for broilers (any chicken that is bred and raised specifically for meat production). 
  • It constitutes 25% of poultry feed and maize constitutes 60%.
  • Roundup Ready Soybeans (RR soybeans) are genetically engineered soybeans that have had their DNA altered to allow them to withstand the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup). 
    • They are also known as “glyphosate tolerant” soybeans. 

What is the Status of GM Soyseeds in India?

  • India allows the import of GM soybean and canola oil.
  • Import of GM soya bean seeds has not been approved in India.

Concerns:

  • Environmental activists have raised concerns about the permission given for something derived from a genetically modified plant to enter the human food chain because India’s regulatory system has not yet approved GM foods.
  • The Coalition for a GM-Free India, which includes consumer rights groups and sustainable farming groups, termed the decision “highly objectionable and legally untenable (reputable)”. 
  • It noted that the 1989 rules of the Environment Protection Act applied not just to GM organisms, but also products and substances thereof.
  • It is also feared that import of GM soya bean will affect the Indian soya bean industry by contaminating non-GM varieties.

Do You Know?

  • The only GM crop approved for cultivation in India is BT cotton. Talks are on to allow Htbt Cotton.
  • Bt Cotton has alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under Environment Ministry, is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the authorised body to regulate the imported crops in India.

Connecting the dots:


(RSTV Debate)


RSTV 3rd Aug 2021: The Big Picture: Changes in general insurance business bill

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7bxosINH14

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy & Challenges

Changes in general insurance business bill 

  • The Union Lok Sabha on Monday passed the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Amendment Bill, 2021 that seeks to amend the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1972. 
  • The Act was enacted to nationalize all private companies undertaking general insurance business in India. 
  • The Bill seeks to provide for a greater private sector participation in the public sector insurance companies regulated under the Act. 
  • The 1972 Act requires that shareholding of the central government in the specified insurers must be at least 51%. The 2021 Amendment Bill removes this provision. 
  • Besides, there are certain other amendments as well related to change in the definition of general insurance business, transfer of control from the govt, and liabilities of directors.

What is the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Amendment Bill, 2021?

  • The amendment mainly seeks to remove the requirement of a minimum of 51 per cent shareholding of the government in the four subsidiary companies of the General Insurance Company, which are the National Insurance Company, the New India Assurance Company, the Oriental Insurance Company Limited and the United India Insurance Company.
  • As per the Bill, amendments had become necessary to attract larger private participation in public sector insurance companies, enhance penetration of insurance sector and to provide social protection by securing interests of policyholders.
  • Bill has also changed the definition of general insurance business and transferred the power of appointing majority of directors of specified insurer & power over its management or policy decision from the government.
  • The objectives and reasons for the Bill are to provide for greater private participation in public sector insurance companies, increase insurance access, better the social protection and interests of policyholders, and contribute to the rapid growth of the economy. For this, it became necessary to amend some of the provisions of the Act.

Significance of the Bill

  • This bill was passed in line with government’s ambitious privatization agenda. In the budget speech for 2021-2022, finance minister announced privatization drive including two public sector banks and one general insurance company. 
  • Accordingly, among four public sector general insurance companies namely, National Insurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited; government will dilute its shareholding in one company name of which is yet to be finalized.
  • The bill seeks at enhancing insurance penetration and social protection and better secure the interests of the policyholders. It also aims at contributing to the faster growth of the economy.

Opposition to the Bill

  • The opposition showed concern as the bill seeks to remove the requirement that the Government should not hold less than 51% of equity capital, it also calls for greater private participation in public sector insurance companies.
  • The bill was termed as anti-people and anti-national legislation by the Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, who spoke briefly on the bill amid the protests in Lok Sabha. Its also being said that privatizing decades old institution will lead to concentrating it into hands of capitalist.

Transfer of control from the government

  • The Bill provides that the Act will not apply to the specified insurers from the date on which the central government relinquishes control of the insurer.  
  • Control means: (i) the power to appoint a majority of directors of a specified insurer, or (ii) to have power over its management or policy decisions. 
  • The Act empowers the central government to notify the terms and conditions of service of employees of the specified insurers.  The Bill provides that schemes formulated by the central government in this regard will be deemed to have been adopted by the insurer.  
  • The board of directors of the insurer may change these schemes or frame new policies.  Further, powers of the central government under such schemes (framed under the Act) will be transferred to the board of directors of the insurer.

Liabilities of directors

  • The Bill specifies that a director of a specified insurer, who is not a whole-time director, will be held liable only for certain acts.  These include acts which have been committed: 
  1. With his knowledge, attributable through board processes, and 
  2. With his consent or connivance or where he had not acted diligently.

Gaining the trust of people on privatizing 

  • Its mindset issue: People have more faith in govt owned companies, who see govt as a savior, but after Private companies come with good ideas eventually people will shift to them.

Can you answer this question now?

  • Critically discuss the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Amendment Bill, 2021.

 (TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding PM-JAY:

  1. PMJAY offers a sum insured of 5 lakh per family for tertiary care only. 
  2. National Health Agency is the implementing body for the scheme.

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under Science and Technology Ministry, is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops. 
  2. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the authorised body to regulate the imported crops in India.

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.3 Which of the following Schedule of the Constitution deals with Union list, State list and concurrent list? 

  1. Sixth Schedule
  2. Fifth Schedule
  3. First Schedule
  4. Seventh Schedule 

ANSWERS FOR 13th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 D

Must Read

On Inter-State border disputes:

Times of India

On Human Development Product:

Indian Express

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