Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 6th October -2021

CURRENT AFFAIRS 06-10-2021

                                                                                                  

Topics                                                                                                                                                   

  • Pandora Papers Leak and 300 Indians
  • The Conference on Disarmament: Geneva
  • Amazon: Astro Robot
  • The 2003 Ceasefire deal
  • Nobel Prize for Physiology 2021

 

 

1.Pandora Papers Leak and 300 Indians

#GS 2-Transparency &Accountability, GS3-Money Laundering

Context

  • Several prominent Indian names have recently been revealed as part of the Pandora Papers leak.
  • There are over 300 Indian names in the leak, with over 60 of them being well-known.
  • The Pandora Papers are a collection of 11.9 million leaked documents from 14 multinational corporate services firms that created nearly 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts.

In depth information

What are the Pandora Papers, and why are they important?

  • The Pandora papers contain the world’s largest collection of leaked data on tax haven secrecy.
  • They offer a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of offshore money, shedding light on some of the world’s wealthiest people’s financial dealings.
  • It contains over 11.9 million leaked papers from 14 worldwide corporate services firms that set up over 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts in a variety of tax countries, not just obscure ones.
  • These agreements deal with the ultimate ownership of assets ‘settled’ (or deposited) in private offshore trusts, as well as the investments held by the offshore entities, such as cash, stock, and real estate.

The following are some of the reasons for establishing trusts abroad:

Maintain a degree of separation:

  • To project a degree of separation from their personal assets, businesspeople set up private offshore trusts.
  • Because of their complicated structures, offshore trusts provide enhanced secrecy to businesspeople. Only the financial investigation agency or the international tax authority can provide information to the Income-Tax Department.
  • By transferring all of their assets to a trust, businesspeople can avoid their NRI children being taxed on the income from their assets. Furthermore, tax rates in other countries are substantially lower than India’s personal income tax rate of 30% plus surcharges, including those on the super-rich (those with annual income over Rs 1 crore).

Prepare for the reintroduction of estate duty:

  • There is widespread anxiety that estate duty, which was removed in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, may be reinstated soon. Business families have been urged to set up trusts ahead of time to protect the next generation from incurring the high death/inheritance tax of up to 85%.

Flexibility in a capitalist economy:

  • India’s economy is dominated by capitalists. The Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme allows individuals to invest only $250,000 per year (LRS). To get around this, businesspeople have become NRIs, and under FEMA, NRIs can remit an additional $1 million per year outside of their regular annual income.

The NRI perspective:

  • Although offshore trusts are recognised under Indian law, the trustees — not the “settlor” or “beneficiaries” — are the legal owners of the trust’s properties and revenue. An NRI trustee or offshore trustee acting on behalf of another overseas ‘protector’ ensures that they are only taxed on their whole income from India in India.

Indian Taxation’s Grey Areas:

  • There are some areas of taxation where the Income-Tax Department is competing with offshore trusts.
  • Residents of India must now report their foreign financial assets and income under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
  • If the trustee is an Indian resident, the I-T Department may regard an offshore trust to be a resident of India for tax reasons.
  • If the tax authority determines that the trustee is taking orders from a resident Indian, the trust may be regarded a resident of India for taxation purposes.
Trust

?       A trust is a fiduciary arrangement in which a third party, known as the trustee, holds assets on behalf of the individuals or organizations that would benefit from it.

?       It’s most commonly utilized in estate planning and succession planning.

?       It aids wealthy corporate families in the consolidation of their assets, including financial interests, stock ownership, and real estate.

?       Settlor — one who establishes, develops, or originates a trust; Trustee — one who holds the assets for the benefit of a group of persons named by the ‘settlor’; and Beneficiaries — those who get the benefits of the assets.

?       A trust is not a separate legal entity; rather, the legal nature of the trust is determined by the ‘trustee.’

?       The ‘settlor’ may appoint a ‘protector,’ who has the authority to oversee the trustee and, in some cases, to dismiss the trustee and appoint a new one.

The Indian Trusts Act, 1882, establishes the legal framework for trusts in India. In Indian law, a trust is defined as a trustee’s obligation to manage and use the trust’s assets for the benefit of “beneficiaries.” Offshore trusts are also recognised in India.

Off-the-Shelf Business

?       A ready-made company or ‘off-the-shelf’ company is a pre-registered limited business that has never been traded. An ‘off-the-shelf’ firm is ready to use right away and can be acquired for a set price.

 

2.The Conference on Disarmament: Geneva

#GS 2-Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 Context:

  • In Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is taking place.
  • India expressed deep concern at the conference about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, which could jeopardize peace and security, saying that the possibility of terrorists obtaining such weapons requires the international community to work together to address this grave threat.
  • India has stated that it supports the complete and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as the strengthening of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in order for it to fulfill its crucial role.

In depth information

 About the Disarmament Conference:

  • The Conference on Disarmament (CD) is a multilateral disarmament conference situated in the Palais des Nations in Geneva that was formed by the international community to discuss arms control and disarmament agreements. The Conference meets in Geneva three times a year in three separate sessions.
  • The Conference was founded in 1979 as the Committee on Disarmament, as the international community’s only multilateral disarmament negotiating platform. In 1984, it was renamed the Conference on Disarmament.
  • The year of formation was 1984.
  • 65 countries are members.

The Conference was established with a fixed agenda, dubbed the “Decalogue,” that included the following topics:

  • In every way, nuclear weapons are a threat.
  • Weapons of mass devastation that aren’t nuclear.
  • Weapons of mass destruction.
  • Military budgets are being cut.
  • Armed troops are being reduced.
  • Disarmament and development are two concepts that are often used interchangeably.
  • International security and disarmament.

Involvement with the United Nations:

  • Informally, the Conference is separate from the United Nations. Despite the fact that it is not a UN body, it is connected to it in a variety of ways.
  • First and foremost, the Conference’s Secretary-General is the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva.
  • In addition, while the Conference sets its own rules of procedure and agenda, the UN General Assembly can vote resolutions recommending specific issues to the Conference.
  • Finally, the Conference sends an annual or more frequent report on its actions to the General Assembly.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

  • The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997 established an international institution to implement and enforce the rules of the non-proliferation pact, which prohibits member governments from using, storing, or transferring chemical weapons.
  • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is authorised to conduct inspections to ensure that signatory states are abiding by the treaty.
  • The OPCW reports on its inspections and other activities to the UN through the Secretary General’s office, as per the 2001 Relationship Agreement between the OPCW and the UN.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize was given to the organisation in 2013 “for its enormous efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.”

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  • Chemical weapons development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, and retention are all prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • The transfer of chemical weapons, either directly or indirectly.
  • Use of chemical weapons or military readiness for use.
  • assisting, encouraging, or influencing other countries to participate in CWC-prohibited activities.
  • “As a method of warfare,” the use of riot control agents.

External auditor for the Hague-based OPCW:

  • The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) appointed India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as the external auditor in April 2021 for a three-year term beginning in 2021.
  • The appointment was made following an election procedure held at the recent OPCW summit.
  • During the OPCW conference, India was also re-elected to the executive council of the OPCW, representing the Asia group, for another two-year term.

The Executive Council’s Role:

  • It is the OPCW’s governing body.
  • The Council consists of 41 OPCW Member States that are elected by the Conference of the States Parties and rotate every two years.
  • The Council supervises the activities of the Technical Secretariat and is responsible for promoting the effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention.
  • Each Member State has the right, on a rotating basis, to serve on the Executive Council.

 

3.Amazon: Astro Robot

#GS3-Robotics

 Context

  • Amazon recently revealed its ‘Astro’ home robot, which is intended to assist consumers with a variety of duties such as house monitoring and staying in touch with family.
  • However, civil society has raised concerns about the privacy implications of round-the-clock surveillance.

 In depth information

 

What exactly is Astro?

  • Astro, a robot dog on wheels, weighs around 20 pounds and is two feet tall. In The Jetsons, Astro is also the name of the non-robotic dog.
  • The robot is supposed to wander around the house and keep an eye on pets while the owner is away, as well as detect anything weird.
  • It has a “periscope” camera that rises up from its head and may be used to monitor your home.
  • It’s a cutting-edge product that taps into Amazon’s artificial intelligence skills and employs cameras and sensors to track and follow you throughout the house.

Concerns about privacy:

  • Civil society is concerned about the amount of data Amazon will be able to collect with the Astro, allowing the firm easy access to the home. This is a step beyond Alexa, which previously just had access to vocals and sound.
  • Although Amazon claims that Astro stores facial data locally rather than in the cloud, privacy concerns remain, as they do with any internet-connected device.
  • There are fears about the device being stolen or hacked. As a result, the criminal has access to the digital map of someone’s home that the robot develops.
  • In the long run, the primary issue may contribute to a stronger public acceptance of AI-assisted surveillance.
  • Hackers have already gained access to Ring cameras, which are employed in Amazon technologies.
  • There are fears about the device being stolen or hacked. As a result, the criminal has access to the digital map of someone’s home that the robot develops.
  • In the long run, the primary issue may contribute to a stronger public acceptance of AI-assisted surveillance.
  • Hackers have already gained access to Ring cameras, which are employed in Amazon technologies.

Other Recent Experiments:

  • Softbank “halted” the manufacture of Pepper, one of the first humanoid robots capable of “reading” emotions, earlier this year.
  • Jibo has launched an Indiegogo campaign to create the world’s first social robot for the home.

Robotics

About:

  • Robotics is an engineering discipline that deals with the conception, design, construction, and operation of robots.
  • Any machine that operates automatically and replaces human effort is referred to as a robot.
  • The goal of robotics is to develop intelligent devices that can help people in a number of ways.

Advantages:

  • Robots can boost production, efficiency, quality, and consistency in a variety of circumstances.
  • Because robots do not have the same environmental requirements as people, such as lighting, air conditioning, or noise protection, they can work in hazardous conditions.
  • Some sensors/actuators on robots are more capable than those on humans.
  • Robots, unlike humans, do not become bored. They can perform the same thing over and over until they wear out.
  • They can be extremely precise, down to fractions of an inch (as is needed for example in manufacturing of microelectronics).

Disadvantages:

  • If robots displace human jobs, they may cause economic concerns.
  • Robots can only do what they’re told; they can’t think for themselves.
  • This necessitates the implementation of safety safeguards to protect humans and other robots.
  • Although robots are better to humans in some aspects, they are not as dexterous.
  • Emotional intelligence, which is crucial in high-stress circumstances, is lacking in robotics.
  • In terms of the initial cost, upkeep, the requirement for additional components, and the need to be programmed to complete the work, robots are frequently highly expensive.
  • Concerns about surveillance raise the risk of a privacy nightmare.

 

4.The 2003 Ceasefire deal

#GS2-India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 Context:

  • In Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara area, Indian and Pakistani troops are said to have exchanged fire briefly along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • This is the first infraction along the de facto border’s Kashmir Valley sector since February of this year.

In details

  • In February 2021, India and Pakistan made a joint statement vowing to rigorously adhere to the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • The 2003 ceasefire deal was concluded four years after the Kargil War, in November 2003.
  • The truce was declared on November 26, 2003, throughout the full length of the India-Pakistan border.
  • It permitted the establishment of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes, allowing for the first time in six decades for bus and truck services to connect the two Kashmirs, increasing cross-LoC connections, exchanges, travel, and trade.
  • The ceasefire also allowed India to finish building a barrier near the Line of Control to prevent Pakistani militants from infiltrating Kashmir, a project it had started decades ago but had to halt owing to Pakistani artillery bombardment.

 Significance?

  • The 2003 ceasefire deal is remembered as a watershed moment since it provided peace along the Line of Control until 2006. Between 2003 and 2006, India’s and Pakistan’s jawans did not shoot a single bullet.
  • However, ceasefire violations have grown increasingly common since 2006. Despite an agreement struck in 2018 to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire accord, the frequency of ceasefire violations has increased in recent years.

What is the source of your concern?

  • This raises the question of how long the new ceasefire along the LoC would last, especially as summer approaches. As summer approaches in the Kashmir Valley, militant infiltration bids from Pakistan rise as is customary. As the ice on the high mountains melts, Pakistan gains a new opportunity to foment terrorism in the Valley.

 

5.Nobel Prize for Physiology 2021

#GS3-Scientific Innovations &Discoveries, GS2-Health

 Context

  • David Julius and ArdemPatapoutian, both from the United States, were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of temperature and touch receptors.
  • They’ve concentrated their efforts on somatosensation, or the ability of specialized organs like the eyes, ears, and skin to see, hear, and feel.

In depth information

 About the Findings:

Julius David:

  • TRPV1, a heat-sensing receptor, was identified by him.
  • His discoveries on the skin’s temperature sensitivity were based on how particular cells react to capsaicin, the spicy ingredient in chili peppers, by creating a false sense of heat.

ArdemPatapoutian:

  • He discovered the Piezo channels, which are mechanosensitive ion channels.
  • The Piezo1 is named after the Greek word pesi, which means pressure.
  • He is credited with discovering the biological process and underlying gene responsible for converting a mechanical stress on our skin into an electric nerve impulse.
  • The findings have given us a better understanding of how heat, cold, and mechanical force can trigger nerve impulses that allow us to detect and adapt to the world around us.
  • This understanding is being applied to the development of medicines for a variety of diseases, including chronic pain.

Note

  • Touch, temperature, body position, and pain are all sensed by neural receptors in the skin and some internal organs, and are referred to as somato sensation.
  • Mechanoreception, thermoreception, and proprioception are examples of these processes.
  • Mechano sensitive channels are intriguing proteins because they can function as both sensors and effectors.
  • They are embedded in membranes and transform mechanical stimuli such as in-plane membrane tension and curvature into electrical or biochemical signals, allowing adaptive response by regulating a wide range of cellular functions.

 Regarding Nobel Prizes

  • The Nobel Prizes were established in 1895 by the will of Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel.
  • The Nobel Prizes are awards presented by The Nobel Foundation in the domains of chemistry, literature, peace, physics, and physiology or medicine.
  • The Nobel Foundation, a private foundation founded in 1900, bears ultimate responsibility for carrying out Alfred Nobel’s wishes.
  • In 1901, the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were awarded for the first time.
  • The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was created in 1968 by Sveriges Riksbank.

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