Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 23rd October -2020

 

1)Indian Institute of public administration- IIPA:

Why in news?

Under MoS DoNER (The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region), MoS (Personal and parliamentary Affairs) Dr. Jitender Singh today presided over the 317th Executive Council meet of Indian Institute of Public Administration- IIPA as its new chairman.

What is IIPA?

  • It is an autonomous training and research organisation under the Ministry of Personnel of Government of India
  • Established in 1954

Objectives:

  • To promote and provide for the study of Public Administration and Economic and Political Science with special reference to Public administration and the machinery of Government and educational purposes incidental hitherto.
  • To understand, organise and facilitate study courses, conferences and lectures and research in matters relating to Public Administration and the machinery of the government
  • To undertake and provide for the Publication of journals and of research paper and books

 

2) CPI-IW base year revised to 2016:

Why in news?

The Labour and Employment Ministry on Thursday revised the base year of the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016 to reflect the changing consumption pattern, giving more weightage to spending on health, education, recreation and other miscellaneous expenses, while reducing the weight of food and beverages.

  • The new series would not have an impact on the dearness allowance (DA) given to government employees for now.
  • The linking factor of the new series to the old series was 2.88, something which employer federations had raised in consultations.
  • Bureau was expected to bring out the new series of the CPI for agriculture workers, which currently has the base year of (1986-87) by

August next.

  • Labour and Employment Secretary Apurva Chandra said that in the future, the Bureau would work towards revising the index every five years.
  • The reduction in weight to spending on food and beverages indicated an increase in disposable income.
  • The new series, representing the latest consumption pattern, would be in the interest of workers.
  • The number of centres, markets and the sample size for working class family income and expenditure survey were all increased.
  • The CPI-IW is used primarily for measuring the dearness allowance (DA) payable to workers in the organised sector, including PSUs, banks and insurance companies, besides government employees.
  • It also provides inputs to government in macro policy planning.

First CPI-IW with base year 2016:

The Minister also released the first index, with 2016 as the base year.

  • The index for September, calculated for 88 centres as opposed to the previous 78 centres, was 118.
  • The sample size was increased from 41,040 families to 48,384, and the number of selected markets for collecting retail price data increased from 289 to 317.
  • A Ministry statement said, “The number of items directly retained in the index basket has increased to 463 items as against 392 items in the 2001 series…
  • The weight of food and beverages has declined over time whereas the weight of miscellaneous group (health; education and recreation; transport and communication; personal care and effects; household goods and services etc.) has increased substantially under 2016 series vis-à-vis earlier series.
  • The weight of housing group has reported an increasing share over period of time”.
  • The weight to food and beverage was reduced from 46.2% to 39%, while spending on housing increased from 15.2% to 17%.
  • Apart from measuring inflation in retail prices, the CPI-IW was used to regulate the DA of government employees and industrial workers, as well as fixing and revising minimum wages in scheduled employments, the statement said.
  • Before the latest revision, the series was revised from 1944 to 1949; 1949 to 1960; 1960 to 1982 and 1982 to 2001, it added.

What is CPI?

  • Definition: A comprehensive measure used for estimation of price changes in a basket of goods and services representative of consumption expenditure in an economy is called consumer price index.
  • Various categories and sub-categories have been made for classifying consumption items and on the basis of consumer categories like urban or rural.
  • Based on these indices and sub indices obtained, the final overall index of price is calculated mostly by national statistical agencies.
  • It is one of the most important statistics for an economy and is generally based on the weighted average of the prices of commodities.
  • It gives an idea of the cost of living.

Uses of CPI:

  • The CPI-IW is used primarily for measuring the dearness allowance (DA) payable to workers in the organised sector, including PSUs, banks and insurance companies, besides government employees.
  • Inflation is measured using CPI.
  • It also provides inputs to government in macro policy planning.
  • The percentage change in this index over a period of time gives the amount of inflation over that specific period, i.e. the increase in prices of a representative basket of goods consumed.
  • Used in fixation and revision of minimum wages in scheduled employements besides measuring the inflation in retail prices.
    CPI for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW)-
  • CPI-IW measures the changes in the prices of a fixed basket of goods and services utilised by Industrial Workers.
  • Measures Dearness allowance
  • The target group would be an average working-class family
  • Compiled by the Labour Bureau.
  • Base year 2001, now changed to 2016

CPI for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL)-

  • Measures changes in agricultural labourers commodity
  • Released by Labour Bureau

CPI for Rural Labourer (CPI-RL)

  • Measures changes in rural labourers commodity basket
  • Released by the Labour Bureau.
  • Released monthly

CPI- combined

  • Combination of rural +urban
  • RBI uses CPI- C as a headline inflation
  • Released by NSO, Under ministry of statistics and program implementation
  • Base year – 2011-12

Value addition

Two indices to measure Inflation

  1. WPI
  2. CPI

WPI:

Represents prices of goods sold in bulk

WPI is divided into 3 groups

  • Primary articles- weight is 20%
  • Fuel and power – weight is 15 %
  • Manufacturing products – weight is 65 %

WPI does not include services

Computed by Office of Economic Advisor, Ministry of commerce

Comparison of weightages FOR CPI-IW as per 2001 and 2016 base years:

 

3) Right of first refusal:

Why in news?

  • To boost shipbuilding in India, Ministry of Shipping amends Right of First Refusal (ROFR) licensing conditions a bold step towards ‘Aatma Nirbhar Shipping’ for ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’
  • In pursuance of ‘Make in India’ policy of the Government of India, Ministry of Shipping has reviewed the ROFR (Right of First Refusal) licensing conditions for chartering of vessels/Ships through tender process for all types of requirements.
  • To promote the demand of the ships built in India, priority in chartering of vessels is given to vessels built in India,

The Right of First Refusal (RoFR) would be exerted in the following manner:

  • Indian built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
  • Foreign built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
  • Indian built, foreign flagged and foreign owned

What Is a Right Of First Refusal?

  • Right of first refusal (ROFR), also known as first right of refusal, is a contractual right to enter into a business transaction with a person or company before anyone else can.

 

4) Anti-Corruption Working Group meet:

Why in news?

Dr Jitendra Singh referred to the India’s Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which the Modi government amended after 30 years in 2018 to introduce a number of new provisions including criminalizing the act of giving bribe also in addition to taking bribe and at the same time putting in place an effective deterrence for such actions by individuals as well as corporate entities.

  • Present Act aims at checking corruption in big places and striking hard against corporate bribery.
  • It seeks to establish a vicarious liability so that the actual bribe giver is also exposed.
  • India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 empowers authorities for non-conviction based attachments and confiscation of proceeds of crime and properties as well as assets of a Fugitive Economic Offender.

Who is a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO)?

An FEO is defined by The Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018 as “any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who

  • Has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or
  • Being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution

Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018.

  • The Bill would help in laying down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
  • The cases where the total value involved in such offences is Rs.100 crore or more, will come under the purview of this Bill.

Impact:

  • The Bill is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences.
  • This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
  • It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad

Salient features of the Bill:

  • Application before the Special Court for a declaration that an individual is a fugitive economic offender;
  • Attachment of the property of a fugitive economic offender;
  • Issue of a notice by the Special Court to the individual alleged to be a fugitive economic offender;
  • Confiscation of the property of an individual declared as a fugitive economic offender resulting from the proceeds of crime;
  • Confiscation of other property belonging to such offender in India and abroad, including benami property;
  • Disentitlement of the fugitive economic offender from defending any civil claim; and
  • An Administrator will be appointed to manage and dispose of the confiscated property under the Act.

 

5) U.S. to nix business visas for H-1B speciality jobs:

In news:

  • The U.S. State Department has proposed not to issue temporary business visas for H-1B speciality occupations, which allowed several companies to send tech professionals for a short stay to complete jobs on site.

Concern:

  • The move could affect hundreds of Indians.

Key takeaways:

  • The proposal, if finalised, will eliminate any misconception that the “B-1 in lieu of H policy” provides an alternative avenue for foreign professionals to enter the U.S. to perform skilled labour that allows and even encourages them and their employers to circumvent the restrictions and requirements relating to the H non-immigrant classification established by the Congress to protect U.S. workers, the State Department said.
  • The move, made public on Wednesday, comes less than two weeks ahead of the presidential election.

Value Added Information

What is H-1B Visa?

  • It is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level foreign workers in specialty occupations. Speciality occupations requires: Theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.
  • Any professional level job that usually requires a bachelor’s degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations.
  • The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. H-1B has an option of green card application.
  • H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependents.
  • An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status.
  • While an H4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US, they may attend school, obtain a driver’s license and open a bank account while in the US.

 

6) Army chief commissions INS Kavaratti at Visakhapatnam

In news:

  • INS Kavaratti, the last of the four indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes built under Project 28 (Kamorta class), by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata, was formally inducted into the Navy at the Naval Dockyard in Eastern Naval Command here on Thursday.

Key takeaways:

  • The ship, named after the capital of the Lakshadweep group of islands, has been constructed using high-grade DMR 249A steel produced in India.
  • The ship spans 109 metres in length, 14 metres in breadth with a displacement of 3,300 tonnes and is regarded as one of the most potent Anti-Submarine Warships to have been constructed in India.

Significance:

  • Experts say the induction of the ASW corvettes will be a game changer in the eastern seaboard, especially with the Chinese submarines trying to make sorties in the Indian Ocean.

Value Added Information

What is Project 28?

  • P 28 is a project under which four Anti Submarine Warships have to be built indigenously in India by Garden Reach Shipbuilders And Engineers (GRSE) , Kolkata.
  • Project 28 was approved in 2003, with construction of the lead ship, INS Kamorta commencing on 12 August 2005.
  • Three of the four corvettes, INS Kamorta , INS Kadmatt and INS Kiltan were commissioned in 2014, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
  • The warships are named after the islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago.
  • The Kamorta class corvettes are intended to succeed the Kora-class corvette by precedence and Abhay-class corvette by role.
  • Project 28’s objective was to enhance localization and development of warship construction industry in India.

 

7) 2+2 talks will focus on regional issues:

In news:

  • India and the U.S. will discuss “salient regional” issues when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper travel to India next week for the “2+2 Ministerial dialogue”, the government said on Thursday, in an indication that ties with China will be on the agenda for talks on October 27.

Key takeaways:

  • The Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue will entail a comprehensive discussion on cross-cutting bilateral issues of mutual interest. In addition, both sides will also exchange views on salient regional and global issues.
  • India and U.S. have a comprehensive global strategic partnership which includes political, security and defence, economic, commercial, technology and people-to-people contacts.
  • We have regular dialogue for various levels to discuss ongoing bilateral cooperation and to exchange views on developments in the region.

 

8) Nag anti-tank missile completes final user trial:

In news:

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Thursday carried out the final user trial of the third generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), Nag, at the Pokhran firing range.
  • “The missile was integrated with the actual warhead and a tank target was kept at a designated range. This was launched from NAG Missile Carrier, NAMICA. The missile hit the target accurately defeating the armour,” the DRDO said in a statement.

Significance:

  • With this final user trial, NAG will enter into production phase.

About Nag:

  • Nag had been developed to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions.
  • The missile has “fire and forget” and “top attack” capabilities with passive homing guidance to defeat all Main Battle Tanks (MBT) equipped with composite and reactive armour.

 

9) Pak. made 3,800 ceasefire violations:

In news:

  • Pakistan has carried out 3,800 unprovoked ceasefire violations so far in 2020, said an official of the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • India had regularly taken up these violations with Pakistan through diplomatic channels.

Key takeaways:

  • “Pakistan forces have continued to engage in unprovoked ceasefire violations, often from civilian areas, to support infiltration of terrorists across the LoC. This is a clear violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding between the two sides. This year, till date, Pakistani forces have carried out more than 3,800 unprovoked ceasefire violations. There have also been attempts to drop arms and ammunition close to the LoC in the garb of civilian activities,” Mr. Srivastava said.
  • He also accused Pakistan of using drones and quadcopters for smuggling of arms and narcotic substances across the International Border (IB).
  • The accusations are timed with the ongoing FATF Plenary meeting (October 21-23) which is looking at Pakistan’s compliance with the 27-point FATF Action Plan.

 

10) ‘Testimony of sexual assault victim enough for conviction’:

Key observations:

  • The sole and trustworthy evidence of a woman, who is a victim of a sexual offence, is enough to find her assailant guilty, the Supreme Court has held.
  • “A woman, who is the victim of sexual assault, is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of another person’s lust and, therefore, her evidence need not be tested with the same amount of suspicion as that of an accomplice,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed.
  • The court was confirming the punishment awarded to a man found guilty under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old child in Tamil Nadu. The Madras High Court had upheld the trial verdict of guilt. The verdict was based on the evidence of the victim though her mother had turned hostile.
  • Justice M.R. Shah drew attention to the long train of judicial precedents from the apex court which have all held that “evidence of the victim of sexual assault is enough for conviction” in a sexual offence case unless there are serious contradictions. Cases of violence against women should be treated with “utmost sensitivity”. Minor contradictions in her testimony should not derail an otherwise water-tight case.

 

11) Sri Lankan Parliament passes 20th Amendment:

In news:

  • The controversial 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority, following a two-day debate.

Key takeaways:

  • The 20th Amendment was the Rajapaksa administration’s first big test in the legislature, since it triggered concern and resistance from not just the political opposition, but also the influential Buddhist clergy that Sri Lanka’s southern polity venerates.
  • The 20th Amendment rolls back Sri Lanka’s 19th Amendment, a 2015 legislation passed with wide support from the Rajapaksa camp — then in Opposition — that sought to clip presidential powers, while strengthening Parliament. The new legislation in turn reduces the Prime Minister’s role to a ceremonial one.
  • The 20th Amendment’s passage comes at a time when the country is facing a new wave of COVID-19, with the number of cases rapidly increasing — after Sri Lanka contained the pandemic in the early months — to 6,028 cases and 14 deaths as of Thursday evening.

 

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