ias-toppers-smog-delhi
Current Affairs Analysis

23rd November 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

What Is Smog? Defence Blacklist Guidelines; 5th International Tourism Mart; Credit Suisse Report; Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI); Agni-I ballistic missile; Pravasi Bharatiya Divas; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 23, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Centre plans crop insurance scheme for small tea growers
  • A relook at defence blacklist
  • 5th International Tourism Mart

Economy

  • ‘India’s wealth rises, as does disparity’: Credit Suisse Report

Environment & Ecology

  • ‘Smog could return’

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Switzerland sign bank information sharing deal

Science & Technology

  • India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Chief Guest of 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

 

Polity & Governance

Centre plans crop insurance scheme for small tea growers

The Centre is planning to roll out a crop insurance scheme for small tea growers.

ias-toppers-small-tea-growers

What will be the features of the scheme?

  • Initially, a pilot will be run in three regions in Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu for one crop-cycle spread over two years commencing 2016-17.
  • The Tea Board would be the nodal agency for the scheme and the cost will be shared between the Centre, the state governments and the growers in the ratio of 75:15:10. However, the growers would have to pick up the state government’s tab in case the government declines to contribute its share.
  • The scheme aims to protect growers from anticipated losses in revenue caused by drop in international/domestic prices, yield loss due to adverse weather or pest attacks or any other reason beyond human control.
  • During the pilot period, the scheme would benefit small growers, covering about 44,223.6 hectares of plantation area. Large growers can also join the scheme, but will have to pay the entire premium.
  • The three regions where the scheme is proposed to be run as a pilot are Golaghat (Assam), Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) and Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) for the crop cycle of March to November for two consecutive years.

Background:

  • The small tea growers, who are now an emerging force in the Indian tea industry (accounting for more than 35% of the production), have suffered crop damage due to hale storms, excess rainfall and pest attacks. There has been a massive crop loss ranging between 30 and 50% due to these factors.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

A relook at defence blacklist

The Union Defence Ministry is planning to relook at defence blacklist guidelines for dealing with global defence firms engaged in corruption in arms deals.

ias-toppers-defence-blacklist

  • Thus, under recently released new policy, the Union Defence Ministry will “re-ascertain” the list of companies banned from doing business in India.

Background:

  • The blacklisting policy was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on November 7, 2016 and the policy was released by the Ministry on 21 November 2016.

Key features of the new policy:

  • The new policy has moved away from blanket banning of blacklisted firms which has adversely affected defence preparedness. Instead of ban, it imposes heavy penalties.
  • It has reduced the period of blanket ban to 5 years from 10 years. However, the upper limit of the ban period has not been specified.
  • It allows doing business with a blacklisted firm for support of critical spares and maintenance in view of national security. However, it will be through prior approval from the Defence Minister, i.e. the designated competent authority.

Concerns:

  • The review will include about a dozen firms that came under blanket blacklisting in the previous regime, a move which the forces were unhappy about as it proved detrimental to their modernisation plans.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

5th International Tourism Mart

The fifth International Tourism Mart has begun in Imphal, Manipur.

ias-toppers-5th-international-tourism-mart

Key Facts:

  • The event has been organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism in association with the North-Eastern States and West Bengal.
  • The event has been organised with the objective of highlighting the tourism potential of the North East region of India in the domestic and international markets.
  • It brings together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs together to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies and other stakeholders.
  • 57 buyer delegations from countries like Australia, Japan, Japan, US, Brazil, UK, Canada are participating in this edition of mart.

About the International Tourism Mart:

  • The International Tourism Mart is an annual event organized in the North Eastern region to highlight the tourism potential of that region in both domestic and international markets.
  • It is annually organized on rotation basis in the North Eastern States.
  • Earlier editions of the event took place in Guwahati (Assam), Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), Shillong (Meghalaya) and Gangtok (Sikkim).
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Economy

‘India’s wealth rises, as does disparity’: Credit Suisse Report

As per a report on global wealth published by Credit Suisse, the total quantum of wealth in India is rising but disparity between rich and poor is also rising.

Highlights of the report:

ias-toppers-credit-suisse-report

Global Scenario:

  • Overall growth in wealth remained limited in 2016.
  • It is continuing the trend that had emerged in 2013 and is contrasting sharply with the double-digit growth rates witnessed before the global financial crisis of 2008.
  • The total global wealth in 2016 edged up by 1.4% or $3.5 trillion to a total of $256 trillion, a rise in line with the increase in the world’s adult population.

Indian Scenario:

  • The report says that the uneven growth has left 96% of the adult population in India at the base of the wealth pyramid with wealth below $10,000. However, a small fraction of the adult population (0.3%) has net worth of more than $100,000.
  • The wealth in India is mostly dominated by property and other real estate. It makes up 86% of its estimated household assets.
  • The wealth in India in local currency terms increased 5.1% in 2016 but due to adverse currency exchange movements.
  • India’s household wealth fell by 0.8% to $3 trillion in dollar terms. The annual growth of wealth per adult in rupees has averaged 6% between 2000 and 2016.
  • The number of millionaires remained flat at 1.78 lakh with $973 billion in wealth. Among these, ultra high-networth individuals increased by 5.2% to 2,260, including 1,040 with more than $100 million.
  • The number of millionaires in India is projected to increase by 9.5% in the next five years to 2.8 lakh in 2021.
  • Meanwhile, the personal debts are estimated to be 9% of gross assets in India which is much lower than in most developed countries.
[Ref: LiveMint]

 

Environment & Ecology

‘Smog could return’

According to experts, the heavy blanket of smog that enveloped Delhi for days after Diwali could return soon as the constant sources of pollution have remained largely the same.

ias-toppers-smog-delhi

What is smog?

Smog is a kind of air pollution, originally named for the mixture of smoke and fog in the air.

Factors responsible for smog:

  • Classic smog results from large amounts of coal burning in an area and is caused by a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide.
  • Drops in wind speeds and cooler temperatures in the weeks ahead could provide a favourable setting for smog to develop and stick around.
  • Burning of agricultural residue in neighbouring States could add to the problem. The government is yet to look at a long-term plan to prevent the practice.
  • Other sources of pollution, including industries, power plants and vehicles, have also remained largely untouched.
  • In the wake of smog in early November, the government put in place some emergency measures. But action against sources of pollution has been minimal.

Background:

While there are certain time restrictions and monetary charges on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, vehicular emissions within the city have not been curbed.

The government had remained slow to act on this matter. Hence, the judiciary took up the monitoring of air pollution. The Supreme Court has also asked the Centre and the NCR governments to come up with action plans.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India and Switzerland sign bank information sharing deal

India and Switzerland have signed a Joint Declaration for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in respect of accounts of Indians held abroad.

ias-toppers-automatic-exchange-of-information

Key facts:

  • The pact provides that both countries will start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards.
  • The pact is based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (MCAA) also known as Common Reporting Standards (CRS) on AEOI.

Significance of the pact:

  • The pact will help India to get access details of bank accounts held by Indians in Switzerland for 2018 and subsequent years on an automatic basis from September 2019.
  • It is considered as a big step towards fighting black money stashed by Indians overseas.

Background:

Switzerland always had been at the centre of the debate on black money allegedly stashed by Indians abroad. It used to be known for very strong secrecy walls around its banking practices till a few years ago. However, after huge global pressure had forced Switzerland to sign MCAA on AEOI and do away with its tough secrecy clauses in its local laws given to the banks.

[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Science & Technology

India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile

India successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile, which can hit a target 700km away.

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  • The test was conducted as part of a training exercise by Strategic Forces Command of Indian Army.
  • It was test-fired from the Wheeler Island, off Damra village on the Odisha coast.

About Agni-I:

  • The Agni-I missile is the 700-km range surface-to-surface missile, powered by solid propellants.
  • The Agni-I missile is said to be equipped with a sophisticated navigation system which allows it to reach a target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
  • Agni-I, weighing 12 tonnes, was designed to carry a payload of more than one tonne. Its strike range can be extended by reducing the payload.
[Ref: TOI]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Chief Guest of 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

António Costa
António Costa
  • António Costa, the Indian origin Prime Minister of Portugal will be the chief guest at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention.
  • The PBD Convention is scheduled to be held from January 7 to 9, 2017 in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • Besides, Surinam Vice president Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin will be the Special Guest at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Bengaluru on January 7, 2017.
  • The PBD is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. It is celebrated every year since 2003.
  • January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.

 

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