Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 31st August-2020

 

1) Ease of doing business index:

Context: World Bank halted its annual Publication doing business report it detected irregularities of data for a few countries.

  • A World Bank press release said the integrity and impartiality of our data and analysis is Paramount and so we are immediately taking the following actions:
  • The World Bank Group’s independent internal audit function to perform an audit of the processor for data collection and review for doing business and the controls to safeguard Data integrity.
  • India has sought to improve ease of doing business index ranking as a means to attract investments to achieve the targets of make in India
  • Make in India announced in 2014 aims at raising the manufacturing sector share in GDP to 25% and creating hundred million additional jobs in manufacturing sector by 2022
  • Policy makers celebrated India’s commitment to minimum government maximum governance
  • The decision to audit the doing business report for last 5 years may soon cause discomfort on the sharp rise in India’s ranking as experts find that India’s ranking was almost entirely due to methodological changes.
  • During same period, Chile’s Global rank when down sharply, Chile president accused the World Bank of manipulating ease of doing business index methodology to show her Presidency in poor light while showing improvement in the ranking during the Regime of right-wing party
  • It has been same with Russia its ease of doing business rank jumped from 120 in 2012 to 20 in six years later, taking Russia head of China, Brazil, and India but without becoming a magnet for investment inflows.
  • China on the contrary attracted one of the highest capital inflows but its ease of doing business ranking was low
  • Going beyond the data and methodology does the ease of doing business index have pretty power?
  • The share of manufacturing sector has stagnated at around 16 to 17 percent of GDP and 3.5 million jobs were lost between 2011-12 and 2017-18.
  • Annual GDP growth rate in manufacturing fell from 13.1 percent in 2015-16 to 2019-20 as per National accounts statistics
  • India’s dependence on China has shot up comparing Prime Minister to announce yet another initiative at atmanirbharbharat

Flaws in the index:

  • The indicators used for the index are Dejure (as per the statute) and not de facto (in reality)
  • The data for computing the index are obtained from larger enterprises prices in 2 cities Mumbai and Delhi by lawyers, Accountants and brokers not from entrepreneurs.
  • The World Bank and it’s a global enterprise server collecting information from companies
  • Interestingly there is no correlation between the rankings obtained from ease of doing business and the enterprise surveys.
  • Economic history shows rich variations in performance across countries and policy regimes defying simplistic generalization that inform the construction of the ease of doing business index
  • To meet the ease of doing business target safety standards of factories are compromised
  • In 2016 Maharashtra government abolished the annual mandatory inspection of steam boilers under the boilers act of 1923 and Indian boiler regulation 1950. In its place third party inspection and employers self-certification are mandated
  • However no factory has compiled with self-certification or submitted the third-party certification most other states have copied Maharashtra practice.
  • Hence industrial safety standards have been practically abolished such a case is truly a case of Race to the bottom to please the rating agency
  • World Bank’s decision to hath its of its annual doing business report on account of data authenticity issues of some countries has implications for India
  • Since 2015 the government has invested considerable political and administrative capital to improve India’s global ranking with impressive success

But the enhanced ranking has failed to augment investment and output growth why?

  • Analytical and empirical foundations of the index are weak if non-existent
  • The index is based on Di Je measures and not on de facto conditions
  • There is no credible Association between improvement in ranking and a rise in capital formation and output growth anywhere
  • Worst of all it is ideologically loaded measure against the interest of workers.

 

2) 17TH ASEAN-India Economic Ministers’ Consultations:

Context: Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways and H.E. Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam co-chaired the 17th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations held virtually on 29th August 2020.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take collective actions in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and resolved to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability and resilient supply chain connectivity, particularly the unimpeded flow of essential goods and medicines in the region, in compliance with the WTO rules.

The Ministers’ discussion centered on the review of the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA). The Ministers appreciated the growing trade ties and deepening economic engagement between two parties.

The report of the ASEAN India Business Council (AIBC) was placed before the Ministers. The AIBC Report has recommended that the AITIGA be reviewed for mutual benefit.

The Ministers from India and ASEAN countries instructed the senior officials to start the discussions to determine the scope of the review at the earliest to, inter-alia, make the Free Trade Agreement more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses. The review will make the Agreement modern with contemporary trade facilitative practices, and streamlined customs and regulatory procedures.

ABOUT ASEAN: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam then joined in 1984, Viet Nam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES

In their relations with one another, the ASEAN Member States have adopted the following fundamental principles, as contained in the Treaty of Amity and

Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of 1976:

  1. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
  2. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
  3. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
  4. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
  5. Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
  6. Effective cooperation among themselves.

ASEAN COMMUNITY

  • At the 9th ASEAN Summit in 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established.
  • Cebu Declaration was signed for the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
  • The ASEAN Community is comprised of three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

ASEAN CHARTER

  • The ASEAN Charter serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community by providing legal status and institutional framework for ASEAN. It also codifies ASEAN norms, rules and values; sets clear targets for ASEAN; and presents accountability and compliance.
  • The ASEAN Charter entered into force in 2008. A gathering of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers was held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta to mark this very historic occasion for ASEAN.
  • With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN will henceforth operate under a new legal framework and establish a number of new organs to boost its community-building process.

 

3) Scheduled Commercial Banks and NBFCs

Context: Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman will review with the top management of Scheduled Commercial Banks and NBFCs, the implementation of the resolution framework for COVID-19 related stress in bank loans.

The review will focus on enabling businesses and households to avail of the revival framework on the basis of viability, necessary steps like finalising bank policies and identifying borrowers, and discussing issues that require addressing for smooth and speedy implementation.

Scheduled Banks

  • By definition, any bank which is listed in the 2nd schedule of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 is considered a scheduled bank.
  • The list includes the State Bank of India and its subsidiaries (like State Bank of Travancore), all nationalised banks (Bank of Baroda, Bank of India etc), regional rural banks (rrbs), foreign banks (HSBC Holdings Plc, Citibank NA) and some co-operative banks.
  • These also include private sector banks, both classified as old (Karur Vysya Bank) and new (HDFC Bank Ltd).
  • To qualify as a scheduled bank, the paid up capital and collected funds of the bank must not be less than Rs 5 lakh. Scheduled banks are eligible for loans from the Reserve Bank of India at bank rate, and are given membership to clearing houses.

Non-scheduled Banks

  • Non-scheduled banks by definition are those which are not listed in the 2nd schedule of the RBI act, 1934.
  • Banks with a reserve capital of less than 5 lakh rupees qualify as non-scheduled banks.
  • Unlike scheduled banks, they are not entitled to borrow from the RBI for normal banking purposes, except, in emergency or “abnormal circumstances.” Jammu & Kashmir Bank is an example of a non-scheduled commercial bank.

Co-operative Banks
Co-operative banks operate in both urban and non-urban areas. All banks registered under the Cooperative Societies Act, 1912 are considered co-operative banks.

Non-Banking Financial Company

  • NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.
  • It is engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, and chit business.
  • But, it does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.
  • A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).

Features of NBFCs

  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
  • NBFC do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot
  • Issue cheques drawn on itself.
  • Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs

 

4) AIR Scanner:

  • A free-of-cost document-scanning mobile application
  • Launched by IIT Bombay students.
  • Their inspiration comes from Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call for an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.
  • After the ban on Chinese app – cam-scanner, people were facing issues in scanning and organising documents through their mobile phones

What makes this app special are its exclusive safety features.

  • The document you scan using your mobile camera will be saved in PDF format and will be stored in the device only.
  • “AIR Scanner app does not collect any information about the user and all the documents are stored in the phone’s local storage.
  • App does not use any cloud storage to store the documents of the users. The app guarantees complete user security
  • The app is free of cost and at the same time completely secure. “Many scanner apps require users to sign-in to their apps. Once you sign-in to the application, they automatically back-up all your documents and your personal information into their cloud. This is where the security issue arises. AIR Scanner app doesn’t even require you to sign-in”.
  • With this app, every user can enjoy all the document scanner features such as scanning, organizing and sharing documents without worrying about its security.
  • Added advantage of this app is its Artificial Intelligence feature that reads out the scanned pages and also provides meaning of the selected word to the user in 40 different languages.

 

5) Infrastructure projects in Gadchiroli:

Context: Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari today inaugurated through video link, three important bridges and two road improvement projects in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

The Minister also laid foundation stones for four other major bridge projects across the rivers Wainganga, Bandiya, Perikota and Perimili. These projects are considered crucial for improving mobility for socio-economic development of the Gadchiroli district.

With the construction of these key bridges, the National Highway connectivity in Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh –Telangana is complete now. “This is a dream which has come true after nearly 25 years, when it was conceived when I was a Minister in Maharashtra”.

Advantages:

  • The all-weather road network in far flung areas of Naxal affected districts like Gadchiroli will improve the socio-economic development in the region,
  • He informed that the bridge across River Indravati was completed under very trying and war like conditions (Gadchiroli- a naxal hit area ). A police station had to be set up in order to help construct the bridge.
  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also laid the foundation stones for 4 Major Bridges on Perimilli, Bandiya ,Pearikota and Waingagana River in the district. The existing bridges across these rivers are narrow and often get submerged during monsoons. The bridge across the Wainganga River of approximately 825 meters will improve the connectivity between Gadchiroli and Chandrapur District.
  • The Minister also sought the state Government’s nod to connect Desaiganj – Brahmapuri with Nagpur under the Broad Gauge Metro connectivity plan, which would reduce the travel time to 75 minutes from the current 2 and half ours.
  • With bamboo available in plenty, Gadchiroli can become the hub of Agarbatti manufacturing, whose import has now been stopped.
  • Scope to set up 100 units, which would give employment to local people. There is initiation of a project for conversion of rice to ethanol in Gadchiroli as part of bio-fuel development programme. “This will provide greater value for rice growers and also create jobs”.
  • This will go a long way in mainstreaming of people living in LWE areas.
  • An area progressed only when infrastructure is developed there. He said, with more and more infra projects coming up in these areas, the extremism is coming down gradually.
  • Road development in Gadchiroli would help industrial development, job creation and uplift of living standards of people, besides helping in maintenance of law and order.

Wainganga Bridge Project

  • Wainganga River, which divides Gadchiroli & Chandrapur Districts is one of the important rivers in the State of Maharashtra.
  • Due to current condition of bridge situated on Wainganga, commuters are facing many difficulties.
  • People living in the tribal-dominated areas of Ballarpur, Kothari, Gondpimpri & Ashti are facing challenges regarding employment opportunities, Import & Export of agricultural products, market access, medical amenities and transportation.
  • To eliminate hardships of the people, Union Minister proposed construction of an ambitious project to construct bridge on Wainganga River, along National Highway 353 to be completed by NHAI and PWD. The proposed bridge will bring prosperity to small villages in the districts of Gadchiroli & Chandrapur.

 

6) The world mosquito program:

  • An Australia based not for profit initiative that exist to protect the Global community from mosquito borne diseases
  • Researchers from the world mosquito program have used mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria to successfully control Dengue disease in Yogyakarta city of Indonesia.
  • The scientist in infected some mosquitoes with Wolbachia and then released these in the city where they bred with local mosquitoes until nearly all mosquitoes in the area with carrying Wolbachia bacteria.
  • The Aedes mosquito, that spreads Dengue and other diseases such as Chikungunya, zika and yellow fever cannot do so when they are artificial infected with a bacterium Wolbachia
  • This is called population replacement strategy
  • There was 77 % reduction in dengue incidence in Wolbachia treated communities.
  • Wolbachia are natural bacteria present in up to 60% of insect species including some mosquitoes however wolbachia is not usually present in Aedes mosquito the primary sources responsible for transmitting human viruses such as zika, dengue, Chikungunya and yellow fever.
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also has been working on a similar project developing a strain of Aedes aegypti containing Wolbachia known as Puducherry Strain.
  • The strain was developed at the Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) Puducherry in collaboration with Monash University in Australia

Dengue :

  • Dengue is a mosquito borne tropical disease caused by dengue virus transmitted by mosquito
  • Symptoms fever headache muscle and joint pains
  • W.H.O estimates 39 crore dengue virus infections per year
  • India registered over 100000 dengue cases in 2018 and over 1.5 Lakh cases in 2019 according to National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme
  • Dengue vaccine DENGVAXIA was approved by the US food and drug administration in 2019, first dengue vaccine to get regulatory nod in the US

 

7) Onam:

  • Onam is celebrated to honor the memory of the legendary King Mahabali, the honest, just, fair, kind and compassionate ruler of Kerala.
  • Onam day is marked by traditional games, music and dancing and the delectable ‘onasadya’, the grand feast. Beautiful flower carpets are laid to welcome king Mahabali into homes and hearts.
  • It is also a harvest festival whose date is based on the Hindu Panchangam and falls on the 22nd nakshatra, Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September.

 

8) Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge:

Context: In the latest address of Mann ki Baat, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that the youth participated enthusiastically in the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge. Nearly two thirds of the entries were made by the youth of tier two and tier three cities.

  • Kutuki Kids Learning app, an interactive app for children
  • An app for micro blogging platform called ku KOO ku
  • Chingari App which is getting popular among the youth
  • Ask Sarkar app to get right information about any government scheme

 

9) Kandhamal haladi:

Context: Demand for turmeric is low because of pandemic belongs to Odisha receive G I tag.

What is GI: A geographical indication or GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

Geographical Indications are part of the intellectual property rights that comes under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Who issues GI Tag in India?
The GI tags are given as per the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. GI tags are issued by the Geographical Indication Registry under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

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