Polity & Governance
- Expert Group on SECC submits report to Ministry of Rural Development
- Centre holding discussions on bringing ‘water’ into Concurrent List
- Unemployment in India to increase marginally in 2017-18: UN report
- Signing of Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement by CBDT
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, US sign MoU for collaboration in third world countries
Art & Culture
- ABU International Television Dance Festival
Science & Technology
- Indian pepper may be a cancer fighter
Key Facts for Prelims
- Aakhiri Ahuti
- Magh Bihu
- First country to ban FM radio broadcasting
- India’s first solar powered ferry launched in Kerala
- Jal Manthan-III
- Silver Jubilee Celebrations of NBCFDC
Polity & Governance
Expert Group on SECC submits report to Ministry of Rural Development
The Expert Group set up to prepare Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) has submitted its report to the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
- The expert group was headed by former Finance Secretary Sumit Bose.
- The Ministry of Rural Development will use SECC data for identification of beneficiaries and for generating priority list of beneficiaries under its programmes.
- An Expert Group was constituted to study the objective criteria for allocation of resources to States and identification and prioritization of beneficiaries under various programme using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data.
What is SECC?
- The SECC is a paperless census, wherein the enumeration of data was done using over 6.4 lakh electronic hand-held devices.
- Household data was taken from the National Population Register along with the TIN.
Important observations made by the expert group:
- The use of SECC data and its TIN (Temporary Identification Number) would enable the government to improve the efficacy of its interventions and will result in an improved outcome.
- Regular updation and verification of SECC data is a prerequisite to eliminate the need to mount standalone SECC in the long run, which would put an additional burden on public resources.
- The SECC has the potential to move from being a census-like socio-economic database to becoming the core of a functioning Social Registry Information System (SRIS).
- It has the potential:
- To streamline programme administration,
- To reduce duplication of benefit and fraud,
- Saving on time and costs for both programme applicants and services providers,
- Monitoring the living standards of beneficiaries over time,
- Better targeting of vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society and
- Enabling expansion of the coverage of the programmes.
[Ref: The Hindu, PIB]
Centre holding discussions on bringing ‘water’ into Concurrent List
The Centre was holding discussions with states on the issue of bringing ‘water’ into the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
What’s the issue?
- There is a proposal whether water can be brought into the Concurrent List. Several parliamentarians have talked about it in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
- Earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources too had urged the Centre to initiate “earnest” efforts to build a national consensus for bringing water into the Concurrent List of the Constitution so that a comprehensive plan can be prepared for water conservation.
- The panel had said water needs to be dealt within a consultative manner, taking into consideration the overall national perspective and given the fact that the country will face acute water crisis in near future, especially ground water.
- At present, ‘water’ is a part of the State List. Water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments and storage fall in the State List.
If water is made part of the Concurrent List, both the Centre and state can frame laws on this subject.[Ref: Economic Times]
Unemployment in India to increase marginally in 2017-18: UN report
According to a 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report, India’s unemployment index in 2017 will witness a marginal increase in 2017.
- The report was released by the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Highlights of the report:
- Globally, the number of jobless people will increase by 3.4 million in 2017.
- The global unemployment rate is expected to rise modestly from 5.7 to 5.8% in 2017 as pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.
- The increase in unemployment levels and rates in 2017 will be driven by deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries.
- Vulnerable forms of employment, which include own account workers and contributing family workers are expected to stay above 42% of total employment.
- About 1.4 billion people are likely to be engaged in such employment in 2017, with the number rising by 11 million per year. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will be the most affected.
- In developing countries, the number of workers earning less than $3.10 per day is even expected to increase by more than 5 million over the next two years.
- Global uncertainty and the lack of decent jobs are, among some of the other factors, underpinning social unrest and migration in many parts of the world.
- The report has clubbed India in the category of emerging nations.
- Number of jobless in India will increase from 17.7 million in 2016 to 18 million by 2018 even though the country’s unemployment rate is expected to go down from 3.5% to 3.4% in 2017.
- India performed slightly well in terms of job creation in 2016, as majority of the 13.4 million new employment were created.
Signing of Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement by CBDT
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) entered into a Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (BAPA) with Indian subsidiary of a Japanese trading company.
- Recently, the CBDT has also modified an existing Bilateral APA with another Indian subsidiary of a Japanese company to include rollback provisions.
- Thus, total three Bilateral APAs are now signed with Indian subsidiaries of Japanese companies all including rollbacks.
- The total number of bilateral APAs entered into by the CBDT is now eight.
- The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.
- Under BAPA, certainty in tax treatment is provided for the next 5 years while rollback provides dispute redressal for a maximum of four past years preceding APA years.
Significance of BAPA:
- Signing of bilateral APA is an important step towards ascertaining certainty in transfer pricing matters of multinational company cases and dispute resolution.
- It strengthens Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
- It endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, US sign MoU for collaboration in third world countries
India and the US have signed an MoU to collaborate in the fields of developmental activities and aid in third world countries.
- The MoU has been signed between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Development Partnership Administration (DPA) of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.
- As per the MoU, the two countries would collaborate on exchange of information and experience in sectors or issues pertaining to project development or implementation in partner countries.
- India and US might also provide advisory or technical assistance to third countries regarding sector policy reform, project and sector management, project implementation, and economic growth promotion strategies in relevant sectors.
- The MoU also facilitates officials of two countries to site visits to cross-border or other relevant projects, and capacity building of partner countries.
- Both countries share a vision of reducing poverty globally through sustainable economic growth.
- Based on this shared vision, they intend to cooperate with the goal of advancing their mutual interests to strengthen regional integration and connectivity, particularly in the areas of energy, trade, and investment, it said.
About MCC: Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a US agency providing eligible countries with grants to fund country-led solutions for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth.
About DPA: Development Partnership Administration (DPA) looks after implementation of India’s development cooperation programmes with partner countries.[Ref: Indian Express]
Art & Culture
ABU International Television Dance Festival
The first edition of Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) International Television Dance Festival was held in Hyderabad, capital of Telangana.
- It was hosted by the Prasar Bharati, India’s public service broadcaster.
- It showcased the traditional and contemporary dance performances by artistes from over 10 counties across the Asia-Pacific region.
- The countries participated in the event include Maldives, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Fiji and Indonesia.
- The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), formed in 1964, is a non-profit, professional association of broadcasting organisations.
- The ABU promotes the collective interests of television and radio broadcasters and encourages regional and international co-operation between broadcasters.
- One of the ABU’s activities is Asiavision, a daily exchange of news feeds by satellite among television stations in 20 countries in Asia.
Science & Technology
Indian pepper may be a cancer fighter
A new study suggests that the Indian long pepper, widely popular for spicing up food, may soon be used as a potential cancer treatment drug.
- Scientists have uncovered the chemical process behind anti-cancer properties of a spicy Indian pepper plant called the long pepper, whose suspected medicinal properties date back thousands of years.
About the study:
- According to the study, the Indian long pepper contains a chemical that could stop your body from producing an enzyme that is commonly found in tumours in large numbers.
- The secret lies in a chemical called Piperlongumine (PL), which has shown activity against many cancers including prostate, breast, lung, colon, lymphoma, leukemia, primary brain tumours and gastric cancer.
- PL converts to hPL, an active drug that silences a gene called GSTP1 which produces a detoxification enzyme that is often overly abundant in tumours.
- Thus, it can stop human body from producing an enzyme that is commonly found in tumours in large numbers and can be used as a potential cancer treatment drug.
About long pepper:
- The long pepper, a plant native to India, is found in southern India and south-east Asia.
- Although rare in European fare, it is commonly found in Indian stores and used as a spice or seasoning in stews and other dishes.
- It dates back thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent tied to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medical systems.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The Delhi Police and IndiGo airlines launched a humanitarian initiative called ‘Aakhiri Ahuti’, to ensure that underprivileged people from the Northeast living in Delhi are cremated in the presence of their family.
- ‘Aakhiri Ahuti’ will assure a dignified cremation to the poorest of poor from the Northeastern region.
- IndiGo, however, will ferry bodies only on the basis of recommendations from the Delhi Police, and on a case-to-case basis.
- At present, IndiGo flies to five cities in the Northeast, which include Agartala, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Guwahati and Imphal.
- Magh Bihu, also called Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival celebrated in Assam, India.
- It marks the end of harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February).
- It is the Assam celebration of Sankranthi, with feasting lasting for a week.
- The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting (Assamese version of Tamil Nadu’s Jallikattu).
First country to ban FM radio broadcasting
- Norway became the first country to ban FM radio broadcasting.
- The primary reason behind banning FM radio broadcasting is government’s endeavour to offer a better radio service to the whole population.
India’s first solar powered ferry launched in Kerala
- India’s first ever solar powered boat called ‘Aditya’ was launched at Kochi’s Vembanad lake in Kerala.
- The 75-seater boat is fitted with 78 rooftop solar panels. It is 20 metre long and 7 metre wide.
- It will offer ferry service along a 2.5-kilometre route between Vaikom and Thavanakkadavu, 22 times a day.
- The boat can travel at a maximum speed of about 14 kmph and cruises without noise and minimal vibration, unlike the diesel ferries.
- The Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti has inaugurated the 3rd edition of National conference “Jal Manthan-III” in New Delhi to discuss various issues of water sector.
- The focus of the conference was on refining policies of the Ministry to make them more people friendly and responsive to the needs of the states.
Silver Jubilee Celebrations of NBCFDC
- Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment inaugurated the Silver Jubilee celebrations ofNational Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC).
- NBCFDC is a Govt. of India Undertaking under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- In 1992, NBCFDC was incorporated under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 as a Company not for profit.
- It was set up with an objective to promote economic and developmental activities for the benefit of Backward Classes and to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self employment ventures.
- NBCFDC provides financial assistance through State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by the State Governments/ UTs.
- It also provides Micro Financing through SCAs/ Self Help Groups (SHGs).
- The Corporation can assist a wide range of income generating activities to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self-employment ventures under the broad sectors viz.:
- Agriculture and Allied Activities;
- Small Business;
- Artisan and Traditional Occupation;
- Technical and Professional Trades/Courses; and
- Transport and Service Sector etc.