CURRENT AFFAIRS 26-11-2021
- New Crypto Bill:
- India plans to release crude oil from its emergency stockpile
- The continuation of ACROSS Scheme
- Digital Tax pact:
- O-SMART Scheme
1. New Crypto Bill:
#GS3- Science and technology
- In the winter session of Parliament, the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, will be introduced.
In depth information
- It aims to regulate bitcoin and, apparently, prohibits the use of private cryptocurrencies.
- Its goal is to establish a framework that will make it easier for the Reserve Bank of India to launch an official digital currency.
- So far, the Bill’s particular contours have not been made public, and no public discussions have taken place.
- A new cryptocurrency bill aims to prohibit private players from participating
The current situation is as follows:
- In India, an inter-ministerial commission on cryptocurrency has suggested that all private cryptocurrencies be banned, with the exception of state-issued virtual currencies.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also expressed worries about cryptocurrencies traded in the market, which it has conveyed to the government.
- The Supreme Court authorised banks and financial institutions to resume services linked to cryptocurrencies in March 2020, overturning the RBI’s 2018 circular prohibiting them (on the basis of “proportionality”).
What are private cryptocurrencies, and how do you use them?
- Private cryptocurrency is any cryptocurrency that is not issued by the government, yet there is no precise definition of the term.
Some definitions state that
- Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a slew of other crypto tokens are built on public blockchain networks, which means that transactions on the networks can be traced while yet maintaining user privacy.
- Private cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, could refer to Monero, Dash, and other cryptocurrencies that, despite being constructed on public blockchains, hide transaction details to provide users with privacy.
2. India plans to release crude oil from its emergency stockpile
#GS2- Effect of Policies
- To keep international oil prices down, India plans to discharge crude oil from its emergency stockpile.
In depth information
- To lower oil prices, India will release crude oil from its emergency stockpile in unison with the United States, China, Japan, and other major nations.
- India has three underground caverns at Mangalore, Visakhapatnam, and Padur where crude oil is stored.
- This is the first time India has ever released its oil inventories in order to keep petrol prices from rising.
- India has frequently stated that liquid hydrocarbon pricing should be fair, responsible, and determined by market forces. India has slammed oil-producing countries for deliberately producing oil below demand levels.
The Reason for Taking This Step
- The decision comes after the US encouraged some of the world’s top oil-consuming countries, such as China, India, and Japan, to release crude oil from their stockpiles in order to lower global crude oil prices.
- The proposal came after the US government failed to persuade OPEC+ to increase oil production, despite key producers claiming the world was not short on crude.
- Concerns from India: India has declared that the crude oil release will be done in conjunction with these countries, which are also important world energy consumers.
- India has raised worry on several occasions about oil supply being unfairly regulated below demand levels by oil-producing countries, resulting in higher prices and severe repercussions.
- At the same time, excise duties on gasoline and diesel were decreased in an effort to curb inflationary trends in fuel costs.
- India is the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importer, and its economy has been seriously harmed by the continuous rise in global oil prices.
- In the context of COVID, these high prices jeopardise the global economic recovery.
- High prices are causing unwelcome inflation and jeopardising the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- OPEC and other partner suppliers, including as Russia, have been adding roughly 4,00,000 barrels per day to the market on a monthly basis, which many believe is insufficient to keep prices from rising as demand recovers to pre-pandemic levels.
Oil Release’s Advantages
- It will make liquid hydrocarbon pricing reasonable, accountable, and based on market forces.
- It will also aid in the arbitrary adjustment of oil supply below demand levels by oil-producing countries, resulting in higher prices and severe repercussions.
India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR)
- These are massive crude oil reserves in case of an emergency.
- SPRs are strategic in nature, and the crude oil stored in them will be used in the case of an oil shortage, as and when the Indian government declares it.
- India’s oil reserves are estimated to be at 26.5 million barrels.
- India is a firm believer that liquid hydrocarbon pricing should be fair, responsible, and set by market forces.
3. The continuation of ACROSS Scheme
#GS1-Physical Geography,GS3-Disaster Management
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuance of the Atmosphere and Climate Research-Modeling Observing Systems and Services (ACROSS) Scheme and its eight sub-schemes for the next five-year finance cycle (15th) (2021-2026).
In depth information
- It is related to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ (MoES) atmospheric science programmes and addresses several elements of weather and climate services.
- Under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS,” each of these aspects is divided into eight sub-schemes.
The Eight sub-schemes
- Commissioning of Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radars (IMD)
- Upgradation of Forecast System (IMD)
- Weather & Climate Services (IMD)
- Atmospheric Observations Network (IMD)
- Numerical Modelling of Weather and Climate (NCMRWF)
- Monsoon Mission III (NCMRWF/IITM/INCOIS/IMD)
- Monsoon Convection, Clouds, and Climate Change (NCMRWF/IITM/IMD)
- High-Performance Computing System (NCMRWF/IITM)
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences will implement it through its institutes, which include the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS).
- Each institute has a certain role to play in completing the following duties using eight different strategies.
- The scheme’s significance is that it will improve weather, climate, and ocean forecasting and services. This would include cyclone alerts, storm surge warnings, heat wave warnings, and thunderstorm warnings.
- The entire process, from forecast development through delivery, necessitates a significant amount of staff at each level, creating job chances for a large number of people.
4. Digital Tax pact:
#GS2- International institution
- India and the United States have agreed to a “transitional approach” to the government’s digital service tax.
- The details of the agreement will be the same as those reached last week between the United States and Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
- The agreement protects tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook from potential American retaliation while also easing the burden of the tax.
- India established a 6% equalisation levy on digital advertising services in 2016. Later, in April 2020, the scope was expanded to include a 2% tax on non-resident e-commerce players.
- The US Trade Representative (USTR) has vowed to take punitive trade action against India and other nations that implement unilateral taxes like the equalisation levy.
- In a landmark reform of the worldwide tax system, 136 countries, including India, agreed on October 8 to modify global tax laws to ensure that multinational corporations pay taxes at a minimum of 15% wherever they operate.
- The agreement does, however, compel governments to repeal all digital services taxes and other unilateral measures, as well as to resolve not to do so in the future.
What exactly is the problem?
- The US declared India’s equalisation levy discriminatory and actionable in January this year, and in March proposed 25% retaliatory tariffs on nearly 40 products, including shrimps, wooden furniture, gold, silver, and jewellery, and basmati rice.
- According to USTR projections, the taxes might total $55 million, which is the approximate amount of the DST due by US-based corporations such as Google, Amazon, Linkedin, and Facebook.
- This compromise is a practical approach that allows governments to concentrate their efforts on ensuring the successful implementation of the historic OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework agreement on a new multilateral tax framework.
- Two framework pillars:
- Managing international and digital businesses. This pillar ensures that major multinational corporations, especially digital businesses, pay taxes in the countries where they operate and make profits.
- Dealing with low-tax jurisdictions to combat profit shifting and treaty shopping across borders. This pillar aims to level the playing field between countries by establishing a worldwide minimum corporation tax rate, which is currently suggested at 15%.
- If enacted, countries with lower tax rates, such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as so-called tax havens like the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, may lose their lustre.
- When the global tax framework is adopted, India would have to repeal the equalisation levy it puts on corporations like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
5. O-SMART Scheme
#GS3- Science & Technology
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, led by the Prime Minister, approved the continuation of the O-SMART umbrella project for execution from 2021 to 2026 at a cost of Rs. 2177 crore.
In depth information
The rationale for the change
- The United Nations (UN) has designated the current decade as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and its continuance would improve our position in worldwide oceanographic research and technological development.
- The continuation of the project would make a substantial contribution to national blue economy policy, allowing for the effective and efficient exploitation of the huge ocean resources in a sustainable manner.
What exactly is the O-SMART Scheme?
- It is a Ministry of Earth Sciences initiative that began on August 29, 2018.
- Its goals and significance include promoting ocean research and establishing early warning weather systems. It also tries to cover activities such as technology, services, science, resources, and observations related to ocean development.
- To collect and update data on marine living resources and their interactions with the physical environment in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone on a regular basis (EEZ).
- High-resolution models for ocean forecasting and reanalysis systems are being developed.
- Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (MPN) from a depth of 5500 metres in a 75000-square-kilometer area granted to India by the United Nations.
- The most notable is India’s designation as a Pioneer Investor by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for considerable study on deep-sea mining of Poly Metallic Nodules (PMN) and hydrothermal sulphides in the Indian Ocean’s designated area.
- It is also a remarkable achievement to create technology for desalination utilising low-temperature thermal desalination and to establish such a facility in the Lakshadweep Islands.
- Furthermore, India’s ocean-related efforts have now expanded from the Arctic to the Antarctic, covering vast areas of ocean space that have been monitored via in-situ and satellite-based monitoring.
- Coastal research and marine biodiversity efforts contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-14, which aims to conserve and sustainably utilise the oceans, seas, and marine resources.
- Ocean advisory services and technologies developed to help people and various sectors working in the marine environment, notably in India’s coastal states, are making and will continue to make a significant contribution to the national GDP.