iastoppers-operation-calm-down
Current Affairs Analysis

14th September 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

GST Council; China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; NIIF; GSAT-11; Devendra Jhajharia; Operation Calm Down; Global Scouting Programme; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
September 14, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its Secretariat
  • Approved strength of judges enough to end backlog: Law panel head

Economy

  • Government plans 27,000 km economic corridors

Environment & Ecology

  • Infra pool to have separate funds for roads, clean energy

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Chinese daily warns of setbacks to China-Pakistan economic corridor
  • India drags US to WTO over renewable energy

Science & Technology

  • GSAT-11 to be launched in early 2017

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Devendra Jhajharia
  • BRICS Environment Ministers to meet at Goa
  • “Operation Calm Down”
  • 3rd BRICS Urbanisation Forum Meet
  • Global Scouting Programme

 

Polity & Governance

Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its Secretariat

The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat.

iastoppers-gst-council

GST Council- Key facts:

  • The GST Council has been created as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution.
  • GST Council Secretariat will be set up with its office at New Delhi.
  • The Secretary (Revenue) will be appointed as the Ex-Officio Secretary to the GST Council.
  • The Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), will be included as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council.
  • One post of Additional Secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India) will be created.
  • Four posts of Commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India) will also be created.

Composition of the GST Council:

As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members:

iastoppers-gst-council-table

Functions of the GST Council:

As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to

  • GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST,
  • Model GST Laws,
  • Principles that govern Place of Supply,
  • Threshold limits,
  • GST rates including the floor rates with bands,
  • Special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters,
  • Special provisions for certain States, etc.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Approved strength of judges enough to end backlog: Law panel head

Law Commission of India Chairman and former Supreme Court Judge Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan has expressed his views regarding judicial workload.

Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan
Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan

His views:

  • “Working judges”, and not increasing sanctioned strength of judges, may be a solution to modern-day demands of judicial workload caused by the heightened legal awareness among the public about their liberties.
  • Increasing the sanctioned strength of judges will not solve the problem. We need working judges.
  • Workload has increased because of an increase in awareness among the public and education. There has also been an expansion of liberty.
  • Steps should be taken to fill the sanctioned strength rather than increase the number of judges over and above the current sanctioned strength to solve pendency.

Background:

  • His view comes at a time when the Supreme Court has directed the Law Commission to file a report within a year on whether it is permissible to rid the apex court of routine appeals crowding the court, to help it focus on cases of national and public interest.
  • Also, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur had recently called for over 70,000 more judges to be appointed to courts all over the country to clear the backlog.

Key fact:

  • The present vacancies in the High Courts number over 480 when the sanctioned strength is 1079.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

Government plans 27,000 km economic corridors

The government is planning to make 44 highway stretches totalling 27,000 km to be developed as “economic corridors” for seamless movement of cargo vehicles.

iastoppers-economic-corridors

Key facts:

  • These stretches pass through and connect major hubs of economic activities such as manufacturing clusters and ports, and have been identified as “economic corridors”.
  • The new plan is expected to be completed in six years.
  • The government is exploring several funding options, including road development cess, loans from agencies and also private investment.
  • All these identified stretches will be made into four to six lanes with facilities such as truck lay-by, parking lots and logistics parks.
  • The government will also rebrand national highways as national corridors, economic corridors and feeder roads, a move aimed at helping in navigation and identifying the roads. The corridors have been identified using satellite imagery.
  • There will be no congestion point throughout the stretches.
  • These packages are likely to require at least Rs 6 lakh crore investment.

Significance:

  • The planned economic corridors will also help deepen economic activities and create jobs.
  • It will help in decongesting 30 top cities in the country by building ring roads and logistics hubs along these corridors.
[Ref: TOI, Financial Express]

 

Environment & Ecology

Infra pool to have separate funds for roads, clean energy

The government has tweaked the structure of the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF).

iastoppers-national-infrastructure-investment-fund

What will be the new structure?

  • NIIF will now have two dedicated funds — one for roads and another for clean energy.

Aim of the move:

  • This is aimed at getting long-term funds into these two crucial sectors of the economy.
  • This will also reduce pressure on banks, which are the primary source of finance for long-term infrastructure projects.

Background:

  • Originally, the government had planned to have NIIF as the mother fund which was to raise money from sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), pension funds and other long-term investors. But based on discussions with investors, the finance ministry has now changed the strategy.

About National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF):

Proposed in Union Budget 2015, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has been set up in last month of 2015.

  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • The Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
  • The government has budgeted to contribute Rs. 20,000 crores to the fund in the current fiscal year while another Rs. 20,000 crores are expected to be raised through sovereign wealth funds.
  • The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
  • Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund.
[Ref: TOI]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Chinese daily warns of setbacks to China-Pakistan economic corridor

According to a Chinese newspaper Chinese Daily, China may slow down implementation of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) because of security concerns.

What would be the reasons?

  • The decision would be due to challenges such as a complex regional environment. The economic corridor, linking Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Gwadar Port in southwest Pakistan, passes through some turbulent regions.
  • Besides security challenges, there is serious concern about the economic value of the investments because the Pakistani economy is unlikely to provide a proper rate of return on investments.

Supporters of CPEC:

  • Supporters view the CPEC as a project that can result in the emergence of a stable Pakistan. In turn, that would yield a major geostrategic prize, as it could disrupt the spread of extremism in the region, through which China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road will pass.

About the CPEC project:

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion.

iastoppers-china-pakistan-economic-corridor

  • The 3,000-km CPEC connecting Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through PoK is stated to cost $46 billion.
  • This project will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 kms.
  • The project includes building of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors conceived under China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
  • It is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China.
  • The corridor is considered to be an extension of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, and the importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China’s 13th five-year development plan.
[Ref: TOI]

 

 

India drags US to WTO over renewable energy

India has moved the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the subsidy given by eight US states in renewable energy under American domestic content requirements.

iastoppers-wto-omc

Details:

  • The complaint alleges these 8 states in US have prop up their renewable sector with illegal subsidies and domestic content requirements, an obligation to buy local goods rather than imports.
  • These 8 US states are Washington, Montana, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Minnesota.
  • By filing the complaint, India has triggered a 60-day window for the United States to settle the dispute, after which India could ask the WTO to adjudicate.

Background:

  • Earlier in 2013, India had filed questions at the WTO about suspected subsidies in solar programmes in four US states—Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut. It also had raised questions about local content requirements in Michigan and California’s renewable energy programmes.
  • In May 2016, India lost a case at the WTO after the US complained about India’s national solar programme over illegal subsidies and domestic content requirements. India has appealed that ruling.
[Ref: TOI]

 

Science & Technology

GSAT-11 to be launched in early 2017

India’s GSAT-11 communications satellite will be launched next year by the European Ariane launch vehicle.

iastoppers-ariane

GSAT-11- Key facts:

GSAT-11 is India’s advanced and heaviest communication spacecraft to date at 5,700 kg.

iastoppers-gsat-11

  • In 2009, Government of India had approved the development of GSAT-11.
  • It is designed, assembled and integrated by ISRO.
  • GSAT-11 has multi-spot beam coverage over the Indian mainland and nearby Islands, with a capacity of more than 12Gbps for users from a single platform.
  • The satellite will carry 40 transponders in the Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies, which are three to six times more powerful than that used in existing Indian communications satellites.
  • GSAT-11 has a mission life of about 15 years.
  • The satellite is currently under development at Department of Space and ISRO facilities.
  • The GSAT-11 satellite will provide a host of communications and broadcasting services, including direct-to-home (DTH) television.
  • The GSAT-11 will not only link all the towns and villages in this country with quality high-speed Wi-Fi service, it will also integrate internet and television services.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Devendra Jhajharia

Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia became the first Indian to clinch two gold medals at the Paralympics after he broke his own world record to clinch the top honours at the Rio Games at Rio De Janeiro.

iastoppers-devendra-jhajharia

Devendra, who won his previous gold in the 2004 Athens Games, bettered his own world record to finish on top in the men’s F46 event.

 

BRICS Environment Ministers to meet at Goa

The Environment Ministers of BRICS countries will meet in Goa on September 16 to strengthen mutual cooperation in critical areas like air and water pollution, liquid and solid waste management, climate change and conservation of biodiversity.

iastoppers-brics-environment-ministers

 

“Operation Calm Down”

Under the code-named “Operation Calm Down”, the Army recently stepped in to bring back normalcy in Kashmir. Under the operation, the Army plans to reach out to people, provide a sense of security and chase out militants who are blamed for fanning the unrest.

iastoppers-operation-calm-down

 

3rd BRICS Urbanisation Forum Meet

iastoppers-3rd-brics-urbanisation-forum-meet

The third edition of BRICS Urbanisation Forum Meet has started in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

The delegates from the BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have participated. They will discuss about ways to increase the productivity and make a separate urban finance system and create employment opportunities.

Based on the discussions and deliberations ‘Vizag Declaration’ will be prepared, which will play a vital role in ministers’ conference of BRICS to be held on October 15 and 16, 2016 in Goa.

 

Global Scouting Programme

iastoppers-global-scouting-programme

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) have jointly launched an online portal for its Global Scouting Programme (GSP).

Under the Global Scouting Programme, boys of Indians living abroad will be able to play in India’s team in FIFA under-17 world cup scheduled in 2017 in different cities of the country.

It will provide Indian players who hold valid Indian passport a chance to present his playing talent to the scouts of India’s U-17 team. The online portal of GSP will allow applicant have to upload a two-minute playing video on the site.

 

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