UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 23rd February 2022
Topics for the day:
- Finance minister calls for nuanced debate on GST reforms
- Dengue outbreak
- CRZ norms violation
- Ban on single use plastics
- Fundamental duties enforcement
- Russia to recognise rebel ukraine regions as independent
- Blockchain technology
Finance minister calls for nuanced debate on GST reforms
- The rollback of Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate “corrections” on textiles in late December will hurt the production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme for the sector, Union Finance Minister said.
- In December the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council had decided to postpone the hike in tax rate on textiles from 5% to 12%
- It is believed that the rate hike will correct the inverted duty structure in textiles as basic textiles are charged 18% while later parts in value chain attract lower rates.
GST council :
- It is a constitutional body under Article 279A.
- It makes recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax and was introduced by the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
- The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
- It is considered as a federal body where both the centre and the states get due representation.
- Every decision of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be taken at a meeting by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present
- the vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast
- the votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.
- Dengue breeding checkers who are deployed to check mosquito breeding – have been working without a permanent post at the civic bodies for the last 26 years. Hence they have started a strike in delhi to regularise their employment.
More about dengue :
- Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus (Genus Flavivirus), transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes, mainly Aedes aegypti
- Diagnosis and Treatment : Diagnosis of dengue infection is done with a blood test. There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection.
- India registered over 1 lakh dengue cases in 2018 and over 1.5 lakh cases in 2019, according to the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP)
- NVBDCP is the central nodal agency for prevention and control of six vector borne diseasese. Malaria, Dengue, Lymphatic Filariasis, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya in India. It works under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Recent technique to control dengue :
- Recently researchers from the World Mosquito Program have used mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria to successfully control dengue in Indonesia
- In the method scientists infected some mosquitoes with Wolbachia and then released them in the city where they bred with local mosquitoes, until nearly all mosquitoes in the area were carrying Wolbachia bacteria. This is called the Population Replacement Strategy
- The Wolbachia-modified mosquito is prevented from spreading dengue through future bites because the wolbachia outcompetes the virus for resources such as lipids etc.
CRZ norms violation
- Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities served an inspection notice to the union minister for MSME for violations of the CRZ norms.
What are CRZ norms ?
- They restrict certain kinds of activities like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding within a certain distance from the coastline.
- Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, issued the Coastal Regulation Zone notification on the recommendations of Shailesh Nayak committee for regulation of activities in the coastal area.
- As per the new rules, the coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwater and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations, is called the Coastal Regulation Zone(CRZ)
- CRZ’s are categorized into 4 zones
- CRZ I – Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
- They lie between low and high tide line.
- Here no construction is allowed except activities for atomic power plants, defense.
- Exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt are permitted.
- CRZ II – Shore Line Areas
- includes designated urban areas that are substantially built up. Construction activities are allowed on the landward side only
- CRZ III – Undisturbed Area
- includes mainly rural No new construction of buildings allowed in this zone except repairing of the existing ones.
- in the notification new Categories for densely populated rural areas have been included for CRZ-III (Rural) areas
- CRZ-III A – These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census. Such areas will have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line as against the earlier 200 meters
- CRZ-III B – Rural areas with a population density of below 2161 per square kilometer as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
- CRZ IV – Territorial Area
- An area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward. Fishing and allied activities are permitted in this zone..
- No untreated sewage, effluents, pollution from oil drilling shall be let off or dumped
- projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level
- CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities
- CRZ I – Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
Ban on single use plastics(SUP)
- Odisha government has asked all producers and stockists of single-use plastic (SUP) to exhaust their stocks by June 30 as manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified SUP would be prohibited from July 1 2022
- Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued a notification proposing to prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified SUP items from July 1.
- This was done under the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 through powers under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
New rules plastic management rules :
- Prohibition of manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of SUP, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities from the 1st July, 2022 this covers :
- ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration
- plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes
- invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers
- The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
- The permitted thickness of the plastic bags, will be increased to 75 microns from 30th September, 2021, and to 120 microns from the 31st December, 2022
- The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties.
What are single use plastics ?
- They are plastics that are used just once, as in disposable packaging and products.
- They are made primarily from fossil fuel based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use.
Fundamental duties enforcement
- The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Union and the State governments to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens.
What are fundamental duties ?
- Swaran singh committee recommended the inclusion of a separate chapter on fundamental duties in the Constitution. It stressed that the citizens should become conscious that in addition to the enjoyment of rights, they also have certain duties to perform as well
- They were added through the 42nd Amendment Act.
Characteristics of the Fundamental Duties:
- Some of them are moral duties while others are civic duties. For instance, cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral precept and respecting the Constitution, National Flag and National Anthem is a civic duty.
- They refer to such values which have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religions and practices. In other words, they essentially are a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.
- Unlike some of the Fundamental Rights which extend to all persons whether citizens or foreigners, the Fundamental Duties are confined to citizens only
- Like the Directive Principles, the fundamental duties are also non-justiciable. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by the courts. Moreover, there is not legal sanction against their violation. However, the Parliament is free to enforce them by suitable legislation.
Criticism of fundamental Duties :
- The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning and so on. In fact, duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
- Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man. For example, different interpretations can be given to the phrases like ‘noble ideals’, ‘composite culture’, ‘scientific temper’ and so on
- They have been described by the critics as a code of moral precepts due to their non-justiciable character.
- The critics said that the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution has reduced their value and significance.
Russia to recognise rebel ukraine regions as independent
- Russian President Vladimir Putin will recognise the independence of eastern Ukraine’s separatist republics, the Kremlin said in a statement
- The West has repeatedly warned Russia not to recognise the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk territories
More on the news :
- Ukraine has been witnessing skirmishes between the rebels(backed by Russia) and Ukrainian forces leading to the loss of over 14,000 lives, creating around 1.5 million registered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and destruction of the local economy
- There exist two Minsk agreements to ensure peace in the region
- Minsk 1 was written in September 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, i.e. Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE with mediation by France and Germany. Under Minsk 1, Ukraine and the Russia-backed rebels agreed on a 12-point cease!re deal, which due to violations by both sides, did not last long.
- Minsk 2 – In February 2015, representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE and the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk signed a 13-point agreement, now known as the Minsk 2 accord. However, the provisions under the agreement have not been implemented because of the ‘Minsk Conundrum’.
- Russia believes that the agreement asks Ukraine to grant the Russia-backed rebels in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central Government. Only when this is done will Russia hand over control of the Russia-Ukraine border to Ukraine.
- Ukraine, on the other hand, feels that Minsk 2 allows it to first re-establish control over Donbas, then give it control of the Russia-Ukraine border, then have elections in the Donbas, and a limited devolution of power to the rebels.
- The Centre has no intent to bar the use of blockchain technologies for functions other than those related to payments and the creation of crypto assets said the finance secretary
What is blockchain technology :
- In simple terms, blockchain is a digital ledger and a Ledger is a book containing accounts to which debits and credits are posted
- A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger
How does Blockchain operate?
- A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as permanent database
- Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. Blocks are linked to each other (like a chain) in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block.
- It allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure, peer-to-peer, instant and frictionless
Advantages of blockchain tech :
- Blockchain creates trust between different entities where trust is either nonexistent. It is fraud proof.
- Ensures transactions are conducted in a decentralised manner
- Blockchain’s nature also can cut costs for organizations
- Blockchain creates an unalterable record of transactions with end-to-end encryption, which shuts out fraud and unauthorized activity increasing security
- blockchain can handle transactions significantly faster than conventional methods
- It increases accountability and transparency
- Blockchain enables an unprecedented amount of individual control over one’s own digital data improving privacy
Use of blockchain :
- Blockchain technology can facilitate innovations across a range of processes and applications
- These include – management of information pertaining to financial transactions (as in the case of cryptocurrencies), electoral voting, medical records, academic lessons, property ownership records and professional testimonials
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 23rd February 2022
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