Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 28th September-2020

 

1)Nagorno-Karabakh – Dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan:

Context: Armenia launched and artillery attack on Azerbaijan, Clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan on 27th September over the volatile Nagorno-Karabakh region, reigniting concern about instability in South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to the world markets

  • Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but it is run by ethnic Armenians
  • Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapse in 1991
  • Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, after thousands of people were killed and many more displaced, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other on attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate are Azeri- Armenian Frontier

Background:

  • Both countries were part of USSR
  • Azerbaijan From 1922 to 1991 was part of USSR, USSR disintegrated in 1991
  • Armenia launched and artillery attack on Azerbaijan,
  • Azerbaijan is a Muslim majority country
  • Armenia is a Christian majority country
  • Azerbaijan is being supported by Turkey like countries, Iran and and Pakistan doesn’t recognize Armenia as an independent Nation
  • Armenia got the support of Russia
  • India is in neutral position

Reasons for war

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is the disputed territory between two countries
  • This actually belongs to Azerbaijan but is occupied by Armenia
  • Armenia says according to the ethnicity, it should belong to Armenia and at present defacto control of this region lies with Armenia

What the disputed territory people say

  • The people of the region say grant us as a separate country, which is not acceptable

 

2) CAG report on GST- CESS:

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its latest audit report of government accounts, has observed that the Union government withheld in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) more than ?1.1 lakh crore out of the almost ?2.75 lakh crore collected through various cesses in 2018-19.

  • The CAG found this objectionable since cess collections are supposed to be transferred to specified Reserve Funds that Parliament has approved for each of these levies.
  • The nation’s highest auditor also found that over ?1.24 lakh crore collected as Cess on Crude Oil over the last decade had not been transferred to the designated Reserve Fund — the Oil Industry Development Board — and had instead been retained in the Centre’s coffers.

What is a cess?

  • The Union government is empowered to raise revenue through a gamut of levies, including taxes (both direct and indirect), surcharges, fees and cess.
  • While direct taxes, including income tax, and indirect taxes such as GST are taxes where the revenue received can be spent by the government for any public purpose in any manner it deems appropriate for the nation’s good,
  • A cess is an earmarked tax that is collected for a specific purpose and ought to be spent only for that.
  • Every cess is collected after Parliament has authorized its creation through an enabling legislation that specifies the purpose for which the funds are being raised.
  • Article 270 of the Constitution allows cess to be excluded from the purview of the divisible pool of taxes that the Union government must share with the States.

How many cesses does government levy?

  • A report titled Cesses and Surcharges: Concept, Practice and Reforms since 1944, prepared by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in August 2018 and submitted to the Fifteenth Finance Commission listed 42 cesses that have been levied at various points in time since 1944.
  • The introduction of the GST in 2017 led to most cesses being done away with and as of August 2018, there were only seven cesses that continued to be levied.
  • These were Cess on Exports, Cess on Crude Oil, Health and Education Cess, Road and Infrastructure Cess, Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess, National Calamity Contingent Duty on Tobacco and Tobacco Products and the GST Compensation Cess.
  • And in February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced a new cess — a Health Cess of 5% on imported medical devices — in the Finance Bill for 2020-2021.

Why is the issue in the news currently?

  • The CAG’s finding that the Centre retained ?47,272 crore of GST compensation cess in the Consolidated Fund instead of crediting it to the GST compensation fund in the very first two years of the implementation of the new indirect tax regime
  • This has raised several key questions.
  • For one, most crucially, the express purpose of this particular cess is to help recompense States for the loss of revenue on account of their having joined the GST regime by voluntarily giving up almost all the power to levy local indirect taxes on goods and services.
  • Also, as the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy report observed, the share of revenue to the Centre’s annual tax kitty from cess had risen to 11.88% of the estimated gross tax receipts in 2018-19, from 6.88% in 2012-13.
  • Given that cess does not need to be a part of the divisible pool of resources, this increasing share of cess in the Union government’s tax receipts has a direct impact on fiscal devolution.

 

3) Herd Immunity:

Context: Health Minister says, India still far from herd Community Speaking in his social media interaction Samvaad-3, Dr Harsh Vardhan said indications from the upcoming second sero survey She said people should continue to follow covid-19 appropriate behavior

  • The first sero-survey may had had revealed a nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection of only 0.73 %
  • The health ministry has advised against the wide usage of investigational therapies such as industry and plasma therapies.
  • The Minister said a panel of experts was studying the emerging evidence that covid-19 not only impacts a patients lungs but other organ systems too

What is Herd Immunity?

Herd Immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a sufficient percentage of the population has become immune to an infection whether through vaccination or previous infections thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity

 

4) Mission lantana:

Lantana camara, a thicket forming Shrub, tracts of land and invasive species in aravalli hills

Toxic substance in its follage and ripe berries, affected the animals while its expansion stopped the natural growth of grass and other shrubs

With the herbivorous not getting sufficient forage, the prey base for Carnivorous animals was declining leading to ecological disturbances in the food chain

Reducing the biodiversity

Mission lantana is a drive to remove the toxic flowery shrubs

Forest Department has planted 500 saplings in the clear pockets in Sajjangarh wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan

 

5) World Risk Index (WRI)-2020:

The world risk index says India was poorly prepared to deal with climate reality due to which it was more vulnerable to Extreme natural disasters

World risk index 2020

  • It is released by United Nations University institute for environment and human security (UNU-EHS), Bundnis Entwicklung Hilft and the University of Stuttgart in Germany as part of World Risk Report
  • It indicates which countries are in the greatest need to strengthen measures for coping up with and adapting to Extreme natural events
  • It is calculated on a country by country basis through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability

Rankings:

  • Among continents, Oceania is at the highest risk followed by Africa and Americas
  • India rank 89th among 181 countries
  • India was fourth most at risk in South Asia after Bangladesh Afghanistan and Pakistan

 

6) PUSA Decomposer:

Context: Scientists at Indian Agricultural Research Institute have invented Pusa decomposer

  • It is a set of 4 tablets made by extracting fungal strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual
  • It gives farmers the option to shred the straw, spray a solution containing the fungal strains and mix it with the soil for decomposition

 

7) SAATHI initiative:

  • SAATHI is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism with Quality Council of India to assist the hospitality industry to continue to operate safely and thereby instill confidence among the Staff, employees and the guests about the safety of the hotel/unit.

 

8) Nehru Yuva Kendras and Poshan Maah:

September month is celebrated as Rashtriya Poshan Maah each year under POSHAN Abhiyaan (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment), which was launched in 2018.

  • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has undertaken several activities during Poshan Maah started from 1st September 2020.
  • PoshanMaah aims to create mobilization across the country for improving Nutrition indicators.
  • Department of Youth Affair’s Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghathan (NYKS) has been celebrating National Nutrition Month (RashtriyaPoshanMaah) across the country for the past two years in the month of September.
  • Message of HarGharPoshanTyohar would be taken forward.

Nehru Yuva Kendras

  • As a part of observance of RashtriyaPoshanMaah, District Nehru Yuva Kendras motivated the National Youth Volunteers (NYVs), Members of Youth Clubs, COVID volunteers, Ganga Doots and other NYVs to sensitize the villagers on the issues of Malnutrition, importance of breast feeding, promotion of Kitchen gardens in collaboration with District Administration, Anganwadi, ASHA Workers for effective implementation.
  • NYKS is one of the largest youth organization’s in the world.
  • The youth volunteers are continuously engaged in nation building activities like education, health and sanitation, environment, awareness on social issues, women empowerment, and civic education among others.
  • In the month of September we are celebrating Poshan Maah to take forward the message of Har Ghar Poshan Tyohar.
  • This aims to bring about the much needed awareness especially in villages about the need for a healthy and nutritious diet for lifelong wellbeing
  • Rallies, Run, Pad Yatra, Cycle Yatra, Cultural Programmes, NukkadNataks, Short Film Shows, Exhibitions, Competitions (Quiz, Painting, Poster Making, Essay and Slogan Writing, Wall Writing, Declamation, etc.) have also been organized.

Activities identified for celebrating PoshanMaah 2020:

  • Identification and tracking of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Plantation drive for promotion of Kitchen gardens
  • Leverage youth volunteer groups such as NYSK for focused sensitization on community based visual/early identification of Severely Malnourished/SAM children through digital platforms.
  • Undertake digital sensitization in co-branding with ‘Fit India’ campaign and quality of food in convergence with FSSAI.
  • Additionally, sensitization for nutrition, good sanitation & hygiene practices, importance of adequate dietary diversity
  • Promotion of Nutri-Gardens across the associated campuses/premises

 

9) Dugongs:

Context: Dugongs, the world’s only vegetarian marine mammal are threatened with extinction.

  • Dugongs and their habitats are at risk due to human activities. It has also found a place in IUCN red list.

About Dugongs:

  • The dugong is commonly known as sea cow.
  • They are marine species like sea turtles, seahorses, sea cucumbers and others.
  • They are protected in India under Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.
  • The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction and the CITES limits or bans the trade of derived products.
  • According to the 2013 survey report Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) there were just 250 dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • In 2020 dugongs will be counted with the help of underwater drone cameras.
  • Dugongs graze on sea grass in shallow coastal waters.
  • They can consume up to 40 kilograms of sea grass in a day.

In India, a highly isolated breeding population exists in the Marine National Park, Gulf of Kutch, the only remaining population in western India.

  • The dugong has been hunted for thousands of years for its meat and oil.
  • Traditional hunting still has great cultural significance in several countries, particularly northern Australia and the Pacific Islands.
  • Despite being legally protected in many countries, the main causes of population decline include fishing-related fatalities, loss of sea grass beds due to ocean floor trawling and hunting.
  • With its long lifespan of 70 years or more, it has a slow rate of reproduction.

Pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, vessel strikes and unplanned tourism are the other threats.

 

10) Utkrisht Sansthan Vishwakarma Award:

Utkrisht Sansthan Vishwakarma Award

  • The Utkrisht Sansthan Vishwakarma Award is being organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) since 2019, which aims to motivate, recognize and honor the AICTE approved institutions to raise their performance in the specific domain leading to significant contribution for the growth and development of the society.
  • India is facing an extraordinary challenge to protect citizens from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic all around the globe.
  • In order to motivate and honor technical institutions, AICTE under its Utkrisht Sansthan Vishwakarma Award (USVA) 2020 has proposed the theme of the year as India fights Corona.

Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards

  • In addition to USVA, AICTE conducts AICTE Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards since 2017 for promoting innovative spirit and scientific temperament for holistic development of society through the stakeholders of its approved institutes.
  • By means of this competition, the innovations and achievements of individuals are recognized and applauded.

 

11) National Service Scheme:

National Service Scheme

  • National Service Scheme (NSS) was launched during 1969, the birth centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi, in 37 universities involving 40000 students.
  • NSS is an extension dimension to the higher education system to orient the student youth to community service while they are studying in educational institutions.

Objectives of NSS

  • To understand the community in which they work
  • To understand themselves in relation to their community
  • To identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in the problem solving process
  • To develop among themselves a sense of social and civic responsibility
  • To utilize their knowledge in finding practical solution to individual and community problems
  • To develop competence required for group-living and sharing of responsibilities
  • To gain skills in mobilizing community participation
  • To acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude
  • To develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters
  • To practice national integration and social harmony

Motto and Symbol

  • The motto or watchword of the National Service Scheme is NOT ME BUT YOU
  • The NSS symbol is based on the Rath wheel of the Konark Sun Temple situated in Odisha.
  • The navy blue color indicates the cosmos of which the NSS is a tiny part, ready to contribute its share for the welfare of mankind.
  • The red colour in the badge indicates that the NSS volunteers are full of blood i.e. lively, active, energetic and full of high spirit.
  • The giant wheels of the Sun Temple portray the cycle of creation, preservation and release, and signify the movement in life across time and space.

More about NSS

  • NSS is a voluntary scheme. NSS scheme starts from 11th Standard onwards.
  • The students from foreign countries studying in Indian universities can also join NSS so that they may share the experiences of national reconstruction and community work.
  • NCC cadets will not be allowed to join NSS. Similarly NSS volunteers will not participate in NCC or any other youth organization as long as they are in NSS.

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