Polity & Governance
- 5 new governors appointed by President of India
Issues related to Health & Education
- Vivekananda Kendra to launch year-long nationwide contact programme
- India will start getting Swiss bank details
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Panel to study uranium contamination in A.P.’s Kadapa district
- The legacy of Firoz Shah, 14th-century ruler who built Kotla in Delhi
- What is the Munich Agreement?
Science & Technology
- MeitY and Google tie up to Build for Digital India
- India to launch Rs 200 crore deep sea research project to help with underwater mining
Key Facts for Prelims
- Andhra Pradesh gets India’s longest electrified rail tunnel
- Mamallapuram to host Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping meeting in October
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Polity & Governance
5 new governors appointed by President of India
A total of five governors have been appointed by President including the transfer and appointment of Kalraj Mishra.
Role of Governor of India
- The Governor is the head of a state just like the President is the head of the republic.
- The Governor is the nominal head of a state, while the Chief Minister is the executive head.
- All executive actions of the state are taken in the name of the Governor. However, in reality he merely gives his consent to the various executive actions.
- According to an amendment in the Constitution of India, brought about in 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states.
- Apart from the governors in the states, Lieutenant governors are appointed in Union Territories of Delhi, Andaman Nicobar Island and Pudducherry.
- All other union-territories are governed by an Administrative Head (an IAS officer). The only exception is Chandigarh. The governor of Punjab is also the lieutenant governor of Chandigarh.
Selection Process of the Governor
- The Governor is not elected by the process of direct or indirect voting (like the Chief Minister, the Prime Minister or the President).
- The Governor of a particular state is appointed directly by the President of India, for a period of five years.
He or she must,
- Be a citizen of India.
- Have completed 35 years of age.
- Not hold any other office of profit.
- Not be a member of the Legislature of the Union or of any other state. There is no bar to the selection of a Governor from amongst the members of the Legislature, provided that on appointment, he or she immediately ceases to be a Member of the Legislature.
For more details about the Governor of states, refer IASToppers CAA 17th July 2019. https://www.iastoppers.com/17th-july-2019-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]
Issues related to Health & Education
Vivekananda Kendra to launch year-long nationwide contact programme
Kanyakumari-based Vivekanand Kendra and its state units will launch a year-long nation-wide ‘Ek Bharat Vijayi Bharat’ programme to spread the messages of Swami Vivekanand.
About the ‘Ek Bharat Vijayi Bharat’ programme
- It was launched on 1st September, 2019 on the 50th foundation year of Vivekanand Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari.
- The programme will focus on making people aware of the inspiring story of Vivekanand Rock Memorial and the activities of Vivekanand Kendra.
About Vivekanand Memorial
- The Vivekananda Rock memorial is situated on an island in the Kanyakumari shore where Swami Vivekananda mediated in December 1892.
India will start getting Swiss bank details
From September 1, India will start receiving information on all financial accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland for 2018.
What does this mean for India, and how will the exchange of information be governed?
- In 2016, Switzerland and India signed a joint declaration on the introduction of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in tax matters on a reciprocal basis, which was to come in effect from September 2019.
- The AEOI is to be carried out under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) which is a global reporting standard for such exchange of information, which takes care of aspects such as confidentiality rules and data safeguards.
- The CRS has been developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
- Under the agreement, both country will inform each other of any relevant developments in respect to the implementation of the OECD Common Reporting Standard in their respective domestic laws.
- The step is likely to shed more light on the wealth of Indians held in Swiss bank accounts. The main benefits of Swiss bank accounts include the low levels of financial risk and high levels of privacy.
- In 2018, data from Zurich-based Swiss National Bank (SNB) had shown that after declining for three years, money held by Indians in Swiss Banks rose 50 per cent in 2017 over 2016.
What is Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI)?
- Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is systematic transmission of bulk taxpayer information by the source country to the residence country, which is possible under most of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) and Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC).
- The information which is exchanged automatically is normally collected in the source country on a routine basis.
- Automatic exchange can also be used to transmit other types of useful information such as changes of residence, the purchase or disposition of immovable property
- As a result, the tax authority of a taxpayer’s country of residence can check its tax records to verify that taxpayers have accurately reported their foreign source income.
Need for AEOI:
- Taxpayers operate cross border whereas tax administration is limited to national borders. This has helped tax evasion by shifting money to other countries by citizens. Both tax evasion and tax avoidance have escalated; facilitated by quick transfer of income from one country to another.
- Vast amounts of money are kept offshore and go untaxed to the extent that taxpayers fail to comply with tax obligations in their home jurisdictions.
- Tackling this cross-national transfer of money to avoid and evade taxes indicate that national efforts are not enough to fight black money. Hence there is the need for tax cooperation and tax information exchanges between countries.
What is CRS?
- Although information exchange on ‘request basis’ has resulted in improving transparency significantly, its scope is limited since the offshore financial centres and tax havens are obliged to provide information only when the requesting State has some information already in its possession.
- Hence, on the request of the G20, the OECD developed a single uniform standard for automatic exchange of information, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) on AEOI.
- India had committed to exchange information automatically by 2017 by joining CRS. However, countries like Switzerland, which has a dubious record of banking secrecy laws, implemented it in 2018. Hence, Indian government is able to get the details about the black money holders in Swiss Banks of 2018 only.
About the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA)
- MCAA provides a framework for exchange of information on automatic basis.
- Several countries have signed a declaration to comply with MCAA with an intended date for commencement of exchange of information on automatic basis, which for most countries/jurisdictions is from 2017.
- After joining the framework of the MCAA, countries need to enter into bilateral/multilateral arrangements for exchanging information subject to confidentiality and data safeguards requirements in the recipient countries.
- India signed MCAA in 2015.
- AEOI based on CRS enables India to receive information from every country in the world that is committed to AEOI, including offshore financial centres and tax havens.
- The data received under CRS would be utilised for detecting tax evasion on income of Indian residents having financial assets abroad.
- Thus, it would be instrumental in fighting the menace of black money stashed abroad and ultimately bringing it back to India.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Panel to study uranium contamination in A.P.’s Kadapa district
The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into a number of complaints about groundwater pollution caused by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at Tummalapalle in Vemula mandal of Kadapa district.
What is the issue?
- Ever since uranium was discovered at the remote Tummalapalle village, residents around the site have been complaining of contamination of groundwater.
- The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) asked the UCIL to line the pond with polyethylene layer to curb the groundwater pollution, however, it was not done.
- Hence, the government asked the APPCB to set up a committee of experts which would visit the tailings pond where the wastage from the UCIL facility is stored.
Uranium Corporation of India limited (UCIL)
- Established in 1967, UCIL is a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy with a special standing at the forefront of Nuclear Power cycle.
- It operates six underground mines (Bagjata, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih and Mohuldih) and one open pit mine (Banduhurang) in Jharkhand.
- It is constructing a new underground mine and process plant at Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh.
Ongoing Projects of UCIL
- KPM Uranium Project: Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong, Mawtahbah uranium project, Meghalaya
- Lambapur-Peddagattu region in the Nalgonda district of Telengana
- Tummalapalle Uranium Project in Andhra Pradesh.
The legacy of Firoz Shah, 14th-century ruler who built Kotla in Delhi
Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium is set to be renamed Arun Jaitley Stadium after the former Finance Minister, who passed away recently.
About Firoz Shah Tughlaq
- Firoz Shah Tughlaq was a Turkic Muslim ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi in 13th
- He succeeded his cousin Muhammad bin Tughlaq. His dynasty started from the rule of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and ended at Nasiruddin Mahmud.
- He wrote his autobiography named ‘Futuhat-i-Firozshahi’.
- He built Feroz Shah Kotla (fortress) on the banks of the Yamuna and called it He was the first ruler to build a fortress next to river Yamuna.
- Emperor Ashoka’s pillar, erected near Ambala in 250 BC, was transported to Delhi and placed in Firozabad.
- He repaired Qutub Minar, Hauz Khas (royal tank built during Alauddin Khalji’s reign in the late 13th century) and Surajkund (lake of the Sun).
- By improving sources of water supply and irrigation facilities in Delhi and surrounding areas, he helped bring down the price of food grains too.
- He was the one who started the imposition of
- He also constructed gardens, canals and hunting lodges.
- He is regarded as the honorary founding president of The Conservation Society of Delhi and British called him the ‘father of the irrigation department’ because of the many gardens and canals that he built.
- Under his patronage, premakhyan, a new genre of literature which is Sufi poetry written in Awadhi language grew. He built many institutes for musicians and poets too.
- He was different from his predecessor when it came to ruling as he did not even try to claim the areas which were split away. Many regions took autonomy while he was in power.
- He provided the principle of inheritance to the armed forces where the officers were permitted to rest and send their children in army in their place. However, they were not paid in real money but by land.
Achievements of Firoz Shah
- Established the Diwan-i-Khairat — office for charity
- Established the Diwan-i-Bundagan — department of slave
- Established Sarais (rest house) for the benefits of merchants and other travellers
- Adopted the Iqtadari framework
- Is known to establish four new towns, Firozabad, Fatehabad, Jaunpur and Hissar
- Established hospitals known as Darul-Shifa, Bimaristan or Shifa Khana
Taxes imposed under Firoz Shah Tughlaq
- Kharaj: land tax which was equal to one-tenth of the produce of the land
- Zakat: two and a half per cent tax on property realized from the Muslims
- Kham: one-fifth of the booty captured (four-fifth was left for the soldiers)
- Jaziya: levied on the non-Muslim subjects, particularly the Hindus. Women and children were, however, exempted from the taxes
What is the Munich Agreement?
On September 1, 1939, German troops marched into Poland, triggering the beginning of World War II. As a result, Britain and France, which had assured help to Poland, declared war on Germany on September 3.
What is Munich Agreement?
- The Munich Agreement was signed among Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain in September, 1938.
- It permitted immediate occupation by Germany of the Sudeten German territory of Czechoslovakia.
- During world war, German Chancellor Hitler threatened to bring war to Europe unless the German-majority areas in the north, south, and west of Czechoslovakia, called Sudetenland, were surrendered to Germany.
- The Sudetenland was created after the German-dominated Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed at the end of World War I in 1918.
- In 1938, Hitler began to support the demands of Germans living in the Sudetenland for an improved status. In September, he demanded annexation of the Sudetenland and as a result, disorders broke out in Czechoslovakia and martial law was proclaimed.
- In a meeting between Germany and France, Italy and Britain, it was decided that Germany can annex Sudetenland in exchange of Germany not bringing war to Europe.
- In this context, Czechoslovakia was forced to agree to the deal under pressure from Great Britain and France, which had a military alliance with the country.
- Following the Munich Agreement, German troops occupied Sudetenland in 1938.
Science & Technology
MeitY and Google tie up to Build for Digital India
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Google signed a statement of intent to roll-out ‘Build for Digital India’.
About ‘Build for Digital India’ programme
- It is a joint collaboration between Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Google.
- It is a programme that will give engineering students a platform to develop market-ready, technology-based solutions that address key social problems.
- Applicants will take part in online and offline learning opportunities on key technologies such as machine learning, cloud and android.
- These will be offered through Google’s Developer Student Club network and other Google Developer networks.
- Google will also offer mentorship sessions in product design, strategy and technology to the most promising products and prototypes.
Significance of this initiative:
- This initiative will motivate college students across India to innovate and produce some good technology solutions for major social challenges of India.
- The programme will provide great exposure to students in dealing with real world problems and develop deeper understanding of how newer technologies can be used to solve them.
- Advanced new technologies such as machine learning and AI can help address at scale some of the toughest social challenges that India faces today.
India to launch Rs 200 crore deep sea research project to help with underwater mining
India’s ambition to send men to the deep sea in a submersible vehicle is likely to be a reality in 2021-22 with the ‘Samudrayaan’ project.
About ‘Samudrayaan’ project
- The ‘Samudrayaan’ project is undertaken by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, in line with the ISRO’s ambitious ‘Gaganyaan’ mission of sending an astronaut to space by 2022.
- The project proposes to carry three persons in a submersible vehicle to a depth of 6000 metres under sea to carry out deep underwater studies.
- The ‘Samudrayaan’ is a part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ pilot project of ‘Deep Ocean Mission’.
- It will help India to join the league of developed nations in exploration of minerals from oceans.
- India could be the first developing country to undertake such a project.
What are Polymetallic Nodules?
- Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
- They are potato-shaped, largely porous rocksfound in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
- It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
- India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin(CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
- Accessing even 10% of that reserve can meet the energy requirement for the next 100 years.
- Manganese nodules occur in all oceans. But only in 4 regions is the density of nodules great enough for industrial exploitation.
Polymetallic Nodules contain
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
- Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copperare considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
About the Deep Ocean Mission
- The ‘Deep Ocean Mission(DOM)’ to be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31, 2019.
- A major thrust of the mission will be looking for metals and minerals.
- Underwater robotics and manned submersiblesare key components of the Mission.
- A remotely operable submersible (ROSUB 6000), capable of operating at depths of 6,000 metres, is a part of this mission.
- India has been allocated a site of 75,000 sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin by the International Sea Bed Authority for exploration of polymetallic nodules from seabed.
Key Facts for Prelims
Andhra Pradesh gets India’s longest electrified rail tunnel
Vice President of India inaugurated India’s longest electrified rail tunnel.
About India’s longest electrified rail tunnel
- The recently longest electrified rail tunnel (6.6 km) is Situated between Cherlopalli and Rapuru stations of Andhra Pradesh.
- It is a part of the Obulavaripalli-Venkatachalam railway line.
- It will provide seamless rail connectivity between Krishnapatnam Port and the hinterland areas for freight movement.
Mamallapuram to host Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping meeting in October
The historic coastal town of Mamallapuram is expected to be the venue for the second India-China informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, scheduled in October 2019.
- The first informal summit between India and China was held in Wuhan in China during in April 2018 to exchange views on overarching issues of bilateral and global importance.
- Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram) is an ancient port city in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu.
- The king Narasimha Varman I changed the name from Mamallapuram to Mahabalipuram.
- It is located on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal.
- It is known for its great monuments, cave sanctuaries and sculptures.
- A monument complex at Mahabalipuram, known as the Group of Monuments including Shore Temple and the Five Rathas, is a UNESCO world site.
- It was once ruled by the Pallava dynasty.
- Mamallapuram also hosted the Defence Expo 2018 or known as Defexpo, the Union Defence Ministry’s annual event with international participation.