(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy
Context The government has formed Group of Ministers (GoM), led by Karnataka Chief Minister, to rationalise GST rates.
What will be its role?
- The GoM shall review the current tax slab rates and recommend changes in the same as may be needed to garner required resources (and) review the current rate slab structure of GST.
- It shall recommend rationalisation measures, including merger of tax rate slabs, required for a simpler rate structure in GST.
GoM on GST System Reforms
- GoM on GST System Reforms is also formed.
- Maharashtra Deputy CM has been made its convenor.
- It will look at tapping IT tools to minimise tax evasion and make compliance easier for taxpayers.
- This group will subsume two existing ministerial groups on IT challenges and revenue mobilisation owing to the overlap in their mandates.
Do you know?
- Currently, the GST regime has five broad tax rate slabs of zero, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, with a cess levied over and above the 28% on some goods, and special rates for items like precious stones and diamonds.
Part of: Prelims and GS I – Art and culture
Context: At a time when Kathaprasangam is literally on the verge of extinction, a youth from Koodaranhi village in Kozhikode is making people aware of social issues through the art form.
What is Kathaprasangam?
- Kadhaprasangam (lyrical narrative or story telling performance) is a performing art of Kerala, India.
- It combines speaking, acting, and singing to present a story.
- Costumes, make-up, or settings are not used.
- The main artist, the Kaadhikan, tells the story, acts and sings with two or three accompanying instrumentalists.
- themes are largely from classical and popular literature.
- It originated from an earlier art form Harikathakalakshepam.
Part of: Prelims and GS – III – Manufacturing sector
Context: Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Manufacturing industry have set up the Steering Committee for Local Value Addition, Manufacturing and Exports or SCALE to revive manufacturing.
- Aim: Navigating Indian manufacturing away from the import-dependence pitfalls exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Composition: The SCALE includes the top officials from three industry bodies — CII, FICCI and Asshocham — three representatives from government and three industry leaders.
- The group is working on ideas for 17 sectors — from toys, textiles, furniture and e-cycles to drones, and even fisheries.
- It shall have no deadlines and will follow a rigorous process of consultations to align different factions of industry with varying agendas at multiple levels.
Do you know?
- A sunset industry is an industry in decline, one that has passed its peak or boom periods.
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Intellectual Property Rights
Context Judima, the wine brewed by the Dimasa community in Assam, has been awarded the geographical indication (GI) tag.
- This wine is made from rice and a certain herb.
- It is the first beverage from the north-eastern region to earn this label.
- Judima is intrinsic to the social and cultural life of the Dimasas.
- The GI tag for the drink came 14 years after the ginger of the adjoining Karbi Anglong district received its geographical indication.
- A week ago, Manipur saw two of its indigenous products get the GI tag.
- These were the Tamenglong orange and Hathei chilli grown in the hills.
What is GI tag?
- It is an indication which is definite to a geographical territory.
- It is used for agricultural, natural and manufactured goods.
- The goods need to be produced or processed or prepared in that region.
- The product must have a special quality or reputation.
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 provides registration and also protection of GI goods in India.
- The Geographical Indications Registry for India is located in Chennai.
- A registered GI tag prohibits a third party to use such products.
- GI is a collective intellectual property right and is thus owned by all the producers within the defined GI territory.
- Patents and trademarks are owned by an individual or a business entity.
Part of: Prelims and GS-II- Health
Context The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) has recently released ‘Clinicopathological Profile of Cancers in India: A Report of the Hospital Based Cancer Registries, 2021’.
What are its key findings?
- Gender specific: The proportion of all cancer cases was higher in males (52.4%) than females (47.4%)
- Prevalent cancer in Female: Gynaecological cancers, including breast cancer, comprised over half of all cancers in females.
- Childhood (0-14 years) cancers constitute 7.9% of all cancers.
- Most affected age-group: The highest proportion of cancer from all sites was reported in the 45 to 64 years age group, except for prostate cancer in males, which was higher in those over 65 years.
- Cancer due to tobacco use: 48.7% of cancers among males and 16.5% among females.
- Most common mode of treatment: Chemotherapy was the most typical treatment modality for many cancers regardless of the clinical extent of disease at presentation.
Do you know?
- ICMR, New Delhi is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research.
- It is funded by the Government of India through the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
- The Governing Body of ICMR is presided over by the Union Health Minister.
Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations
- China has completed a key section of the Beijing-Lhasa expressway, a 295-km stretch from Lhasa to Nagqu in Tibetan region.
- Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Nagqu is city in North Tibet.
- The Lhasa-Nagqu section is part of the G6 Beijing-Lhasa expressway.
- In June, China had launched a high speed bullet train connecting Lhasa with Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan town located close to Arunachal Pradesh
- In another development, China has set up surveillance equipment and cameras opposite the Kio Dhura pass in Uttarakhand.
Cyclonic storm Gulab made landfall in Andhra pradesh on 26th September evening.
- It has particularly affected states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
- Cyclones are low-pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters, with gale force winds near the centre.
- The tropical cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal and neighbouring Arabian Sea has two peaks around May and November, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.
(News from PIB)
Part of: GS-Prelims ad GS-II: India and other countries
In News: First in-person Leaders’ engagement, renewing their close relationship and charting a new course to advance the partnership between the world’s largest democracies.
A. Building a strategic partnership and working together with regional groupings, including ASEAN and Quad members, to promote shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond –
B. Developing a trade and investment partnership that increases prosperity for working families in both countries
- Reconvening the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum before the end of 2021, to enhance the bilateral trade relationship by addressing trade concerns, identifying specific areas for increased engagement and developing an ambitious, shared vision for the future of the trade relationship.
- Looked forward to convening the U.S.-India CEO Forum and the Commercial Dialogue in early 2022, leveraging the talents of the private sector.
- Noted ongoing negotiations on an Investment Incentive Agreement that facilitates investment in development projects and committed to an early conclusion.
- Welcomed increased collaboration through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the upcoming Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
C. Finishing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges
D. Galvanizing global efforts to scale up climate action: Through the two main tracks of the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) under the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, the United States and India will accelerate clean energy development and deployment of critical technologies to advance a clean energy transition. India welcomed the United States joining the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT).
E. Strengthening democratic values and institutions in support of our respective peoples
F. Enhancing people-to-people ties that have made both countries stronger
G. Efforts to fight terrorism:
- Commended the U.S.-India Counter Narcotics Working Group and are committed to finalizing a new Bilateral Framework which would facilitate joint efforts to combat drug trafficking, illicit narcotics production and precursor chemical supply chains.
- Resolved that the Taliban must abide by UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021), which demands that Afghan territory must never again be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist attacks, and underscored the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan.
- The Leaders called for an end of the use of violence, for release of all political detainees, and for a swift return to democracy in Myanmar. They further called for the urgent implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus.
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government policies
In News: SAUBHAGYA completes four years of successful implementation
- 2.82 crore households have been electrified since the launch of SAUBHAGYA
- A dedicated toll-free helpline in place to identify and provide electricity connections to remaining unelectrified households
About Saubhagya Scheme
- Saubhagya Scheme aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country.
- The scheme primarily benefits rural areas, which have vast majority of households without power connections.
- The beneficiaries for free electricity connection would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data.
- Expected outcomes –
- Environmental upgradation by substitution of Kerosene for lighting purposes
- Improvement education services
- Better health services
- Enhanced connectivity through radio, television, mobiles, etc.
- Increased economic activities and jobs
- Improved quality of life especially for women
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-III- Health
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce the nationwide roll-out of Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission on September 27.
Based on the foundations laid down in the form of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity and other digital initiatives of the government, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will
- Create a seamless online platform through the provision of a wide-range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems while ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.
- The Mission will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.
- Create interoperability within the digital health ecosystem, similar to the role played by the Unified Payments Interface in revolutionizing payments. Citizens will only be a click-away from accessing healthcare facilities.
The key components of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission include
- A health ID for every citizen that will also work as their health account, to which personal health records can be linked and viewed with the help of a mobile application;
- A Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR) and Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine.
- This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors/hospitals and healthcare service providers.
Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Sandbox, created as a part of the Mission, will act as a framework for technology and product testing that will help organizations, including private players, intending to be a part of National Digital Health Ecosystem become a Health Information Provider or Health Information User or efficiently link with building blocks of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.
News Source: PIB
MUST READ: Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
- GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Context: A new trilateral security partnership called AUKUS (Australia-U.K.-U.S.) has been formed recently.
- US President stated its aim is to “update and enhance our shared ability to take on the threats of the 21st century just as we did in the 20th century: together.”
What are the terms of the grouping?
- The summit announcement specifically referenced its intent for AUKUS to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific in the long term.
- As expected, it drew a sharp response from China, whose territorial ambitions across the Indo-Pacific is one of the key factor behind the formation of this group.
- Beijing stated that AUKUS will “undermine” regional peace and “intensify” an arms race in the region.
- The security partnership also includes a proposal whereby the U.S. and the U.K. will transfer technology to build a fleet of nuclear-powered (not nuclear-armed) submarines for Australia within 18 months.
- With this submarine deal, Australia cancelled a $90-billion conventional submarine purchase order placed with France.
Will AUKUS be a game changer?
The short answer is that it is unlikely, and the reasons are several.
- First, the U.S. already has a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific, especially in a grouping that includes Australia, India, and Japan — the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad.
- QUAD involves joint military presence, and a wide array of war games and more in the region.
- Similarly, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are members of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance, which also has regional security implications.
- It is unclear what additional signalling could be achieved through the new trilateral security arrangement that does not fall within the ambit of the Quad, or ASEAN.
- This assessment is consistent with India’s response to the creation of AUKUS, which saw Indian Foreign Secretary say, “From our perspective, this is neither relevant to the Quad nor will it have any impact on its functioning.”
- Secondly, AUKUS will not likely deter Beijing’s strategic calculus across the region, particularly relating to its maritime ambitions and territorial expansionism.
- The one element of AUKUS that has potential to cause a recalibration of China’s plans in this realm is the nuclear-powered submarines.
- The countries that have such submarines operational are the U.S. (68), Russia (29), China (12) the U.K. (11), France (8) and India (1).
- AUKUS facilitating the development of a nuclear fleet for Australia may alter the power balance in the Indio-Pacific. This will heighten China’s anxiety over its nuclear-powered submarine fleet which has potential of intensifying arms race in the region.
Does India stand to gain from this development?
- India may indeed derive secondary benefits from having three advanced nations with arguably the most sophisticated military know-how in the world coming together to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- Given the inroads that China has made in recent decades with its Belt and Road Initiative in India’s neighbourhood, fears over ‘encirclement’ of India by China may be partially mitigated by AUKUS.
- It would likely be well over a decade before the submarine construction plans in Adelaide come to fruition and Australia operationalises a nuclear-powered fleet.
- To what extent and in what direction the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific would have shifted by then remains to be seen. From New Delhi’s perspective, the business-as-usual approach is the best answer to such ambiguities: it implies that India will work with the transnational institutional arrangements in place, roping in like-minded nations into symbiotic partnerships, and calibrate future alliance plans to evolving security situations across one of the most complex strategic ecosystems in the world.
Connecting the dots:
- China’s Belt and Road Initiative
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
- Reviving SAARC to deal with China
- GS-2: Foreign Policy
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: With close to 85 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses given in India so far, government has disclosed plans to resume export of the India-made vaccine from October, under a programme called ‘Vaccine Maitri’, to foreign countries as well as COVAX.
- Regarding the resumption of exports, India has said only “excess supplies” will be eligible for exports.
What is COVAX?
- The COVAX program is led by the vaccine alliance GAVI, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in partnership with UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers and the World Bank, among others.
- The aim is to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally in what is being called the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
- The program wants to vaccinate roughly 20 per cent of the population in the 92 Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries, which include middle and lower-income nations that cannot afford to pay for COVID-19 vaccines.
- This means countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US $4000 and some other countries which are eligible under the World Bank International Development Association (IDA).
- The funding target for this program for 2021 is about US $6.8 billion, of which it has raised about US $4 billion. The funding is partly coming from high and middle-income countries that will also receive a share of the vaccines produced for COVAX
- The latest supply forecast for global vaccine-sharing platform, COVAX, is that it will have distributed 1.4 billion doses by the end of 2021, less than the 2 billion doses it had aimed for earlier this year.
How many doses has India supplied abroad?
- According to data from the Ministry of External Affairs, as of May 31, 6.6 crore doses of locally made vaccines have gone out of India either as grants, exports or supplies to COVAX.
- The last despatch was on March 29. Close to 99% of the vaccines supplied were Covishield.
Why did India stop vaccine exports?
- India’s vaccination drive began in January 2021 for healthcare workers and was gradually expanded to those aged over 60.
- Until February, the uptake was slow. The first two months were also marked by a declining trend in daily fresh cases of infection.
- By February, the daily count had dipped to an all-time low of below 10,000 — something not witnessed since June 2020.
- Some government-backed epidemiological forecasts as well political messaging began giving out the impression that India had likely passed the worst of the pandemic.
- By March the increase in infection cases was rapid enough for a growing public demand that vaccines be made freely available.
- To cater to the domestic demand in the backdrop of slow supply, India placed “restrictions” on the export of Covishield, and stopped it by mid-April.
What has changed now?
- Vaccine production has nearly doubled since April and could rise to over 30 crore doses by October.
- There is also steady decline in new cases, over half the adults have got at least one dose and, despite reports of fully inoculated people catching the infection, there is no worrying rise in severe disease or mortality.
- However, Covishield continues to be India’s vaccine mainstay. The supply of Covaxin has increased, but it still accounts for only around 11% of India’s total vaccine output.
- Millions of doses of Sputnik V, Sputnik Light, Corbevax and ZyCoV-D are projected to be available in the next few months but so far none has started rolling off the shelves.
- With nearly 100 crore doses needed to fully vaccinate all adults, it is unlikely that all will be fully vaccinated by the year-end. For that, one crore doses need to be administered every day. India’s average daily pace now is about 70 lakh doses.
Connecting the dots:
(Sansad TV- Special Report)
Sep 23: QUAD Summit 2021 – https://youtu.be/B5D10_0zc84
- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
In News: On September 24, President Biden hosted Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan at the White House for the first-ever in-person Leaders’ Summit of the Quad. The leaders have put forth ambitious initiatives that
A. Deepen our ties and advance practical cooperation on 21st-century challenges: Ending the COVID-19 pandemic, including by increasing production and access to safe and effective vaccines;
- Through $3.3 billion in the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan program, Japan will continue to help regional countries to procure safe, effective, and quality-assured vaccines.
- Australia will deliver $212 million in grant aid to purchase vaccines for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Australia will allocate $219 million to support last-mile vaccine rollouts and lead in coordinating the Quad’s last-mile delivery efforts in those regions.
- Japan, through Japan Bank for International Cooperation, will work with India to enhance key investments of approximately $100 million in the healthcare sector related to COVID-19, including vaccine and treatment drugs.
- Further strengthen their science and technology cooperation in support of the 100-Day Mission—collaboration on current and future clinical trials, such as launching additional sites for the international Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) trials, which can expedite investigation of promising new vaccines and therapeutics, while at the same time supporting countries in the region to improve their capacity to undertake scientifically sound clinical research. Will support the call for a “global pandemic radar” and will improve our viral genomic surveillance, including by working together to strengthen and expand the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).
- Launch the Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group: Share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate respective approaches to deliver transparent, high-standards infrastructure.
- Lead on High-Standards Infrastructure
- Will focus their efforts on the themes of climate ambition, including working on 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation and deployment, as well as adaptation, resilience, and preparedness.
- Commit to pursue enhanced actions in the 2020s to meet anticipated energy demand and decarbonize at pace and scale to keep our climate goals within reach in the Indo-Pacific.
- Additional efforts include working together on methane abatement in the natural-gas sector and on establishing responsible and resilient clean-energy supply chains. The Quad will:
- Form a Green-Shipping Network: Uniquely situated to deploy green-port infrastructure and clean-bunkering fuels at scale, Quad partners will launch a Quad Shipping Taskforce which will organize its work around several lines of efforts and aims to establish two to three Quad low-emission or zero-emission shipping corridors by 2030.
- Establish a Clean-Hydrogen Partnership: To strengthen and reduce costs across all elements of the clean-hydrogen value chain, leveraging existing bilateral and multilateral hydrogen initiatives in other fora. This includes technology development and efficiently scaling up the production of clean hydrogen (hydrogen produced from renewable energy, fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear for those who choose to deploy it), identification and development of delivery infrastructure to safely and efficiently transport, store, and distribute clean hydrogen for end-use applications, and stimulating market demand to accelerate trade in clean hydrogen in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Enhance Climate Adaptation, Resilience, and Preparedness: Quad countries commit to increasing the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience to climate change by improving critical climate information-sharing and disaster-resilient infrastructure. The Quad countries will convene a Climate & Information Services Task Force and build a new technical facility through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure that will provide technical assistance in small island developing states.
D. People-to-People Exchange and Education: Launch the Quad Fellowship: The Fellowship will sponsor 100 students per year—25 from each Quad country—to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at leading STEM graduate universities in the United States
E. Critical and Emerging Technologies: Quad leaders are committed to working together to foster an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem.
- Publish a Quad Statement of Principles: On technology design, development, governance, and use
- Establish Technical Standards Contact Groups: On Advanced Communications and Artificial Intelligence focusing on standards-development activities as well as foundational pre-standardization research.
- Launch a Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative: To map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components.
- Support 5G Deployment and Diversification: Launched a Track 1.5 industry dialogue on Open RAN deployment and adoption, coordinated by the Open RAN Policy Coalition
- Monitor Biotechnology Scanning: Will monitor trends in critical and emerging technologies, starting with advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and biomanufacturing. In the process, we will identify related opportunities for cooperation.
F. Cybersecurity-Launch a Quad Senior Cyber Group: To advance work between government and industry on driving continuous improvements in areas including adoption and implementation of shared cyber standards; development of secure software; building workforce and talent; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure.
- Share Satellite Data to Protect the Earth and its Waters: To exchange Earth observation satellite data and analysis on climate-change risks and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources. Sharing this data will help Quad countries to better adapt to climate change and to build capacity in other Indo-Pacific states that are at grave climate risk, in coordination with the Quad Climate Working group.
- Enable Capacity-Building for Sustainable Development: To manage risks and challenges.
As new geopolitical and geo-economic realities emerge in the Indo-Pacific, India is now a critical node in the emerging network of variable geometries in the region. There are important opportunities in the evolving dynamic for New Delhi, as new alliances are crafted and new goals enunciated.
The Quad is here to stay and its outlines are becoming clear as a ‘flexible group of like-minded countries’ that will work together on diverse and urgent areas. The question now is the willingness and ability to forge ahead.
Can you answer these questions?
- Essay: India- Pharmacy of the World
- The Quad offers a great opportunity for reforming China-centred economic globalisation. Comment.
- Quad fills important gap that has emerged in contemporary times. Do you agree? Substantiate your views.
(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.
Q.1 Which of the following does not come under 28% GST slab?
- Automobiles Motorcycles
- Aircraft for personal use
- Steel products
Q.2 ICMR, New Delhi is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research. It is funded by which of the following?
- Ministry of Science and Technology
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Entrepreneurship
Q.3 Judima, the wine brewed by the Dimasa community has been awarded the geographical indication (GI) tag recently. The community belongs to which of the following states of India?
ANSWERS FOR 25th Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Tourism and Inclusive growth: