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Current Affairs Analysis

13th May 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
May 13, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Nehru’s 5-year plans to make way for 15-year ‘vision’
  • ‘No More 50’ campaign for stronger animal laws launched in Maharashtra

Social Issues

  • Bene Israel community in India carries Jewish gene

Economy

  • India, China sign global pact to help tax MNCs
  • China surpasses US as biggest overseas investor

Environment & Ecology

  • Delhi no more the most polluted city in the world, says WHO report
  • US unveils first federal methane regulations

International Relations

  • China and Pakistan join hands to block India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group

Defence & Security Issues

  • Electronics Maintenance Management System for Indian Air Force inaugurated

Science & Technology

  • ‘Smart’ paper responds to gestures

Also in News

  • Kerala wins ‘Best Family Destination’ 2016 award 

 

Polity & Governance

Nehru’s 5-year plans to make way for 15-year ‘vision’

The decades-old five-year plans will now make way for a larger and more focused 15-year “National Development Agenda” that will include internal security and defence as well. 

  • The Centre has decided to discontinue the decades-old five-year plans and replace it with a longer vision of 15 years.
  • The new blueprint will be implemented after the last of the five-year plans, the 12th (2012-17) ends next year. 

Details:

  • This marks the end to the Nehruvian five-year plan model of country’s development in a radical shift in the process.
  • The NITI Aayog has been asked to formulate the long-term 15 -year development blueprint of the country keeping in view the millennium development goals and needs of India.
  • As per the proposed blueprint, there will be a shorter seven-year action plan within the larger framework and a review within three years for any course correction.
  • For the first time, internal security and defence have been included in the plan process so that the long-term planning element can be brought into these areas, for better preparation. These subjects were traditionally not part of the plan process.

Background:

  • In his Budget speech this year, Finance minister Arun Jaitley had stated that his government would do away with the Plan and Non-Plan distinction from the 2017-18, thus giving enough indication that the process of five-year plan would come to an end with the end of 12th Plan. 
[Ref: ET]

 

‘No More 50’ campaign for stronger animal laws launched in Maharashtra

‘No More 50’ campaign has been launched Maharashtra in order to press for stronger animal rights law so that the culprits do not get away by merely paying Rs 50 for their unlawful action under the prevailing Act.

  • The campaign urges the Ministry of Environment to increase punishment for animal cruelty in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • The penalty in the PCA Act for killing, mutilating and maiming an animal has never been revised. Animal abusers have taken advantage of this feeble law and have continued to inflict unsurmountable amount of cruelty on animals.
  • Currently, the maximum penalty even for the most heinous form of animal abuse is a petty Rs 50

 [Ref: ToI]

 

Social Issues

Bene Israel community in India carries Jewish gene

In a study, it has been revealed that the Bene Israel community in the western part of India carries genetic proof of the Jewish roots.

About the community:

  • The community too has identified itself as Jewish.
  • Almost nothing is known about the Bene Israel community before the 18th century, when Cochin Jews and later Christian missionaries first came into contact with it.
  • According to their oral history, the Bene Israel people descended from 14 Jewish survivors of a shipwreck on India’s Konkan shore. The exact timing of this event and the origin and identity of the Jewish visitors are unknown.
  • Some date the event to around 2,000 years ago. Others estimate that it took place in 175 BCE. But others still believe their Jewish ancestors arrived as early as the 8th century BCE.

 [Ref: ToI]

 

Economy

India, China sign global pact to help tax MNCs

In a move aimed at ensuring that multinational corporations don’t get away without paying taxes anywhere, India and China have joined a club of countries that agreed to automatically share information, laying bare the structure of operations of these companies.

Key facts:

  • The agreement was signed as part of the global initiative called Base Erosion and Profit Shifting that is meant to ensure that MNCs do not get away without paying taxes.
  • Apart from these two Asian countries, Canada, Iceland, Israel and New Zealand have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority agreement for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports, bringing the total number of signatories to 39 countries.

What is Base Erosion and Profit Shifting?

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies that exploit these gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.

  • The BEPS Project had been initiated by the G20 countries but it effectively also encompassed the other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Member States from the outset. As the project progressed, engagement in the discussions was extended to other large non-OECD states and representatives of developing countries. 
  • BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises (MNEs).
  • This agreement will help ensure that tax administrations obtain a complete understanding of how multinational enterprises structure their operations, while also ensuring that the confidentiality of such information is safeguarded.

Background:

  • Several international giants including Apple, Google and Starbucks are among companies that are seen to be indulging in aggressive tax planning to minimise their burden. Companies resort to multi-layering of their operations and use tax treaties in what government sees as denying them their share of revenue.
[Ref: ToI, OECD.org]

China surpasses US as biggest overseas investor

According to UK-based data provider, Dealogic, the world’s second-biggest economy, China has surpassed the United States in another aspect as Chinese companies inked the highest number of overseas deals so far this year.

  • The number of deals, mostly purchase of foreign companies, since January amounted to $110.8 billion.
  • The US has dominated the rankings in overseas acquisitions since 2007. Dealogic predicted that China will come ahead of the US at the end of 2016.

 [Ref: ToI]

 

Environment & Ecology

Delhi no more the most polluted city in the world, says WHO report

According to the Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database by WHO, Delhi is no longer the most polluted city in the world.

Key Facts:

  • From the No. 1 position in 2014, the national capital now ranks at No. 11 on the list. However, Delhi’s annual mean of PM 2.5 stood at 122 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³), while the WHO guideline value stands at 10 µg/m³.
  • The top 10 list features four smaller Indian cities, with Gwalior taking the second-most polluted spot, followed by Allahabad in the third spot. Patna and Raipur are in the sixth and seventh spot.

IASToppers-13th May 2016

  • From six in the previous list, the number of Indian cities has now come down to four. Similarly, there are 10 in the top-20 list, down from 13.
  • Zabol, an Iranian city, is now the most polluted city in the world, according to the data for PM 2.5 pollution.
[Ref: ToI]

US unveils first federal methane regulations

The United States has unveiled the first federal regulations on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that accelerates global warming.

  • The regulations aimed at reducing emissions from new oil and gas operations.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency rules are part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight climate change, curb pollution and protect public health.
  • The new rules extend to methane from hydraulically fractured oil wells and equipment that was not regulated in 2012.

About Methane:

  • Methane is a key component of natural gas, and it is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of fueling global warming.
  • It is the second most common greenhouse gas emitted in the United States as a result of human activities, with nearly one-third of its emissions coming from oil production and the production, transmission and distribution of natural gas.

 [Ref: ToI]

 

International Relations

China and Pakistan join hands to block India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group

According to some sources, China and Pakistan are closely coordinating moves to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

  • China is using Pakistan’s non-starter position with the NSG to block India’s application in the name of parity, stating that it would either support NSG entry for both India and Pakistan, or none of them.
  • Pakistan is expected to write to all the NSG Participating Governments about its wish to join the group. This is being done in anticipation of an application by India for NSG membership at the forthcoming plenary session of the group in June. By taking the lead in rejecting the Pakistani application along with that of India, China would like to project its position as “neutral”.

About NSG:

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
  • Currently, it has 48 members and European Commission is its Permanent Observer.
[Ref: ToI, Wiki]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Electronics Maintenance Management System for Indian Air Force inaugurated

Indian Air Force has launched its Electronic Maintenance Management System (e-MMS) Project, an automated military maintenance system.

Key facts

  • The e-MMS project is one of the largest Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) IT implementation in the world.
  • The project has been designed and developed by the Indian IT giant Wipro.
  • IAF had signed the contract for the project e-MMS with Wipro as a System Integrator (SI) in 2013.

Benefits of the e-MMS system:

  • The e-MMS system will transform IAF’s paper-based legacy maintenance system to an online system as it will be implemented in IAF’s hierarchy and functioning.
  • It has a central console that will help IAF to get rid of paper works and heavy logbooks.
  • It seeks to seamlessly connect squadrons, wings, commands, and Air Headquarters after its implementation.
  • It will help to transform work environment of IAF to become more efficient and also help to monitor the operational availability of all fleets and systems in real time at various hierarchical levels.
[Ref: BS]

 

Science & Technology

‘Smart’ paper responds to gestures

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have created ‘smart’ paper with sensing capabilities that can respond to gesture commands and connect to the digital world.

Mechanism:

  • The method relies on small radio frequency (RFID) tags that are stuck on, printed or drawn onto the paper to create interactive, lightweight interfaces that can do anything from controlling music using a paper baton, to live polling in a classroom.
  • The technology — PaperID — leverages inexpensive, off-the-shelf RFID tags, which function without batteries but can be detected through a reader device placed in the same room as the tags.
  • Each tag has a unique identification, so a reader’s antenna can pick out an individual among many.
  • When a person’s hand waves, touches, swipes or covers a tag, the hand disturbs the signal path between an individual tag and its reader.
  • Algorithms can recognize the specific movements, then classify a signal interruption as a specific command. For example, swiping a hand over a tag placed on a pop-up book might cause the book to play a specific, programmed sound.

What is RFID tagging?

RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes.

  • Radio-frequency identification(RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. 
  • An RFID tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission. An RFID tag (sometimes called an RFID transponder) consists of a chip, some memory and an antenna.
  • RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency (RF) scan of the reader.

Applications of RFID tags:

  • RFID tags are used in many industries, for example, an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets allows positive identification of animals.

Concerns over its usage:

  • Since RFID tags can be attached to cash, clothing, and possessions, or implanted in animals and people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised serious privacy concerns.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Also in News

Kerala wins ‘Best Family Destination’ 2016 award

Kerala has once again been named as the best family destination in the country at the Lonely Planet Magazine India (LPMI) Travel Awards 2016.

  • The annual awards showcase the best travel experiences available to Indians and anoint the best service providers, the preferred places to stay and the destinations Indians most love to visit.
  • Kerala Tourism had earlier won the Ulysses Prize of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation for its contribution as a global leader to sustainable tourism.
[Ref: ToI]

 

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