UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 9th March 2022
Topics for the day:
- Global stagflation risk
- India, China to hold fresh round of talks
- Officials to be sensitized to digital media ethics
- Equalisation Levy
- Edible oil prices
- “SAMARTH” Special Entrepreneurship Promotion Drive for Women
- Motor Vehicle agreement
- PARAM Ganga
Global Stagflation risk :
- As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to enter the third week, the economic costs of the conflict in Eastern Europe threatens to stall the shaky global recovery from the COVID19 pandemic and send the world into a stagflation.
What is stagflation ?
- Stagflation is a situation of slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment or economic stagnation which is at the same time accompanied by rising prices (i.e. inflation).
- It can be alternatively defined as a period of inflation combined with a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP).
- Stagflation occurs when the money supply is expanding while supply is being constrained.
Current global situation :
- While the expansive financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and its western allies have sent the value of the rouble plunging by more than 60% against the dollar since the start of the conflict, the war-led disruptions to supply and the sanctions have sent the prices of several key commodities soaring: from wheat and corn, to metals including nickel and aluminum, and, most crucially, crude oil and gas.
- Brent crude futures surged to a high not seen since 2008. The price of natural gas has also risen sharply in Europe amid concerns that supplies from Russia could be hit either on account of European nations agreeing to a U.S. proposal to shut the tap on Russian energy exports or by retaliatory sanctions by Moscow.
- Russia supplies Europe about 40% of its gas requirements, roughly a quarter of its oil and almost half its coal needs, and an embargo on energy supplies from Russia could send already high electricity costs in the countries comprising the eurozone skyrocketing.
- That in turn would hit consumers, as well as businesses and factories, forcing them to either raise prices or possibly even temporarily shut operations.
- Inflation in the euro area had accelerated to 5.8% in February, mainly on account of a more than 31% surge in energy prices, and with the uptrend in oil prices steepening sharply this week, the outlook for price gains in Europe and worldwide is not encouraging.
- The IMF in January cut its forecast for global growth in 2022 to 4.4% citing the Omicron variant, rising energy prices and supply disruptions, on March 5 warned that the war in Ukraine posed grave risks to the global recovery.
India, China to hold fresh round of talks
- India and China have mutually decided to hold a fresh round of Corps Commander level talks at the Indian side of Chushul Meeting Point on March 11.
Background of the fight :
- The two sides have so far held 14 rounds of talks, with disengagement undertaken on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake), Galwan and Gogra areas.
- The focus is on disengagement from Patrolling Point 15 in Hot Springs, while taking forward the comprehensive disengagement and de-escalation efforts forward.
- Since the standoff began in May 2020, the two sides have held a series of talks at different levels political, diplomatic and military and as a part of the agreements reached, undertook disengagement from
- In Galwan it happened in july 2020
- Both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021
- From Patrolling Point 17 in the Gogra area in August 2021
- The other areas yet to be resolved are Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang.
- Reluctant to discuss India has been insisting on comprehensive disengagement and de-escalation of the situation in eastern Ladakh, while China has been reluctant to discuss Depsang and Demchok, maintaining that they were not a part of the current standoff
Different mechanisms between China and India to resolve disputes :
1993 – Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement
- It provides the framework for border security between the parties until final determination is made regarding border demarcation
- The parties agree to reduce troop levels to levels compatible with good relations
- They agree that the India-China boundary question shall be resolved through peaceful and friendly consultations. Neither side shall use or threaten to use force
2003 – Special representative mechanism
- The Special representative from India is the national security advisor
- It was set up to explore from the political perspective the framework of a boundary settlement
- SRs were responsible for the agreement on political parameters and guiding principles for the boundary settlement(2005)
2012 – Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination
- The WMCC was established in 2012 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for management of India – China border areas, as well as to exchange views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between the border security personnel of the two sides.
- It is headed by joint secretary-level officials from both sides. They are entrusted to help the special representative for boundary talks
2013 – Border defence cooperation agreement
- Objective of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement was to avoid border tensions and army face-offs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deciding that neither side will use military capability to attack the other side
- It elaborates on mechanisms for implementing this border defence cooperation including flag meetings, border personal meetings, hotlines and meetings between representatives at various fora
- Also includes exchange of information, joint smuggling efforts, assistance in locating trans-border movement, disease transmission etc.
Officials to be sensitized to digital media ethics
- The Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has approached the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) of all the States and Union Territories to initiate an awareness drive for sensitising their officials to the code of ethics and procedure, and safeguards in relation to the digital media.
- The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, was notified by the Central government and relates to the digital news publishers.
- It is administered by the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.
The Rules provide for:
- A code of ethics to be followed by digital news publishers and OTT platforms.
- The Rules institute a three-tier structure for regulating these publishers:
- self-regulation by publishers
- self-regulation by associations of publishers
- oversight by the central government.
- Code of Ethics:
- For publishers of news and current affairs, the following existing codes will apply: (i) norms of journalistic conduct formulated by the Press Council of India, and (ii) programme code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995.
- For online publishers of curated content, the Rules prescribe the code of ethics. This code requires the publishers to:
- classify content in specified age-appropriate categories, restrict access of age-inappropriate content by children, and implement an age verification mechanism
- exercise due discretion in featuring content affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, and likely to disturb public order
- consider India’s multiple races and religions before featuring their beliefs and practices
- make content more accessible to disabled persons.
- Grievance redressal:
- Any person aggrieved by the content of a publisher may file a complaint with the publisher, who must address it within 15 days.
- If the person is not satisfied with the resolution, or the complaint is not addressed within the specified time, the person may escalate the complaint to the association of publishers, who must also address the complaint within 15 days.
- The complaint will be considered by an inter-departmental committee constituted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting if: (i) escalated by the complainant or the association under certain conditions, or (ii) referred by the Ministry itself.
- Oversight by Ministry:
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will: (i) publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices, (ii) issue appropriate advisories and orders to publishers; (iii) have powers to block content on an emergency basis (subject to review by the inter-departmental committee).
- Any directions for blocking content will be reviewed by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
- Justifying the 2 per cent equalisation levy (EL) imposed by India on the supply of services by multinational enterprises, finance minister has said it is a sovereign right to tax revenues earned from operations in the country.
About the Equalisation Levy:
- India was the one of the first countries to introduce a 6 per cent equalisation levy in 2016, but the levy was restricted to online advertisement services.
- However, India introduced the digital tax in April 2020 for foreign companies selling goods and services online to customers in India and showing annual revenues more than INR 2crore.
Applicability of the levy :
- India has expanded the scope of the equalisation levy over the last few years, to tax non-resident digital entities.
- While the levy applied only to digital advertising services till 2019-20 at the rate of 6 percent, the government in April 2020 widened the scope to impose a 2 per cent tax on non-resident e-commerce players with a turnover of Rs 2 crore.
- The scope was further widened in the Finance Act 2021-22 to cover e-commerce supply or service when any activity takes place online.
- Since May 2021, this also includes any entity that systematically and continuously does business with more than 3 lakh users in India.
When will the tax not apply?
- Offshore e-commerce firms that sell through an Indian arm will not have to pay.
- This means if the goods and services sold on a foreign e-commerce platform are owned or provided by an Indian resident or Indian permanent establishment, they will not be subject to the two percent equalization levy.
Edible oil prices
- The war in Ukraine has driven the prices of many commodities northwards including the edible oil prices.
What’s the issue?
- Most of the sunflower oil supplies to the country was coming from Ukraine, while the domestic production accounts for less than a quarter of the demand.
- With Ukraine being war-hit, the supplies have completely stopped.
- As sunflower oil supplies dwindle, consumers are invariably moving to groundnut and palm oils, driving up their prices as well.
India’s Dependence on Edible Oil:
- India is the world’s biggest vegetable oil importer.
- India imports about 60% of its edible oil needs, leaving the country’s retail prices vulnerable to international pressures.
- It imports palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, soyoil from Brazil and Argentina, and sunflower oil, mainly from Russia and Ukraine.
More about Edible Oils:
- Primary sources of Edible oil (Soybean, Rapeseed & Mustard, Groundnut, Sunflower, Safflower & Niger)
- Secondary sources of Edible Oil (Oil palm, Coconut, Rice Bran, Cotton seeds & Tree Borne Oilseeds).
- In India major challenges in oilseed production are Growing them in largely rain-fed conditions (around 70% area), high seed cost (Groundnut and Soybean), small holding with limited resources, low seed replacement rate and low productivity.
“SAMARTH” Special Entrepreneurship Promotion Drive for Women
- On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022, the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), launched a Special Entrepreneurship Promotion Drive for Women “SAMARTH”
Under the Samarth initiative of the Ministry, following benefits will be available to aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs:
- 20% Seats in free Skill Development Programs organised under skill development schemes of the Ministry will be allocated for Women.
- 20% of MSME Business Delegations sent to domestic & international exhibitions under the schemes for Marketing Assistance implemented by the Ministry will be dedicated to women owned MSMEs.
- 20% Discount on annual processing fee on National Small Industries Corporation’s (NSIC) Commercial Schemes.
- Special Drive for registration of women-owned MSMEs under Udyam Registration.
Motor Vehicle Agreement(MVA)
- A meeting was recently held between three countries – Bangladesh, India and Nepal, to discuss the next steps in operationalising the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) of the sub-regional Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping for the free flow of good and people between them.
- Bhutan has already announced that it is unwilling to sign this agreement
What is the MVA:
- The original BBIN MVA was signed by all four countries in June 2015, but after objections in Bhutan over sustainability and environmental concerns, the Bhutanese parliament decided not to endorse the plan.
- As per the agreement, member countries would allow vehicles registered in the other countries to enter their territory under certain terms and conditions.
- Customs and tariffs will be decided by the respective countries and these would be finalised at bilateral and trilateral forums.
- Asian Development Bank has supported the project as part of its South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation programme.
Significance of the agreement :
- Operationalising the MVA by concluding the Passenger and the Cargo Protocol will help realise the full potential of trade and people to people connectivity between the BBIN countries by fostering greater sub-regional cooperation.
- The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has deployed “PARAM Ganga”, a supercomputer at IIT Roorkee, with a supercomputing capacity of 1.66 Petaflops.
About the Param Ganga supercomputer
- PARAM Ganga will provide greater computational power to Indian scientists and will give a boost to research and development activities across various disciplines.
- The system is designed and commissioned by C-DAC under Phase 2 of the build approach of the NSM.
What is the NSM ?
- The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) is being steered jointly by Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeiTY) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST)
- It is implemented by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
- The four major pillars of the NSM are,
- C-DAC has been entrusted with the responsibility of designing, development, deployment and commissioning of the supercomputing systems under the build approach of Mission.
- Till now C-DAC has deployed 11 systems at IISc, IITs, IISER Pune, JNCASR, NABI-Mohali and C-DAC under NSM Phase-1 and Phase-2 with a cumulative compute power of more than 20 Petaflops.
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 9th March 2022
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