Polity & Governance
- Centre says Crop dusting using drones is illegal
Government Schemes & Policies
- Rights for OCI card holders
- National Consultation on the review of Beijing +25
- First Banana Container Train sent to JNPT for Exports
Issues related to Health & Education
- State of Pneumonia in India
- Deposit insurance hiked to Five lakhs
- Dividend Distribution Tax on companies waved off
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary
- Yellow Rust disease
Bilateral & International Relations
- Brexit: The UK has officially left the EU
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Polity & Governance
Centre says Crop dusting using drones is illegal
The Union Government has clarified that drone-spraying is illegal. As per the provisions of Insecticides Act 1968, aerial application of pesticides need approval/ permission from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB).
Central Insecticides Board:
- Ministry of Agriculture took steps to frame the Rules and constituted Central Insecticides Board and Registration committee.
- For the effective enforcement of the Insecticides Act 1968, the two bodies have been constituted at the Central level viz. Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee.
- In 2018, the Supreme Court directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crores as compensation to over 5,000 victims of the use of Endosulfan pesticide.
- Over 20 years of aerial spraying on cashew plantations in Kerala and other states has left many with mental and physical disorders.
- Studies have established linkages between aerial spraying of the pesticide and the growing health disorders in Kasaragod district.
Government Schemes & Policies
Rights for OCI card holders
The government told the Delhi High Court recently that Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders do not enjoy fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including the right to freedom of speech and expression.
- The government’s response came in a plea filed by former Ranbaxy executive Dinesh Thakur seeking the right to seek information under the RTI Act.
Who are OCI card holders?
- OCI is a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
- It was introduced by the government in 2005.
What rights they enjoy?
- The OCI card holders have merely been given statutory right under the Indian Citizenship Act 1955.
- Overseas citizens have to seek permission under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) to make donations to religious and charitable institutions.
- Ministry has not specifically replied on whether an OCI card holder has the right to practice religion in India, although it says no fundamental rights are applicable to them.
Delhi High Court 2018 ruling:
- The court said that OCI card holders “have the right to enjoy the fundamental rights of equality and freedom of speech and expression in the same way as any other Indian citizen.”
- The Supreme Court has located the right to information in both Articles 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, that is granted to citizens, and Article 21 – the right to life, which is guaranteed to all natural persons.
- The grant of the limited right is by the Central government by notification under Section 7B of the Citizenship Act 1955.
- Therefore, what right is granted depends on the policy of the Central government.
For detailed information on Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), please visit the link given below:
National Consultation on the review of Beijing +25
To mark of 25 years of the adoption of Beijing Platform for Action, Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD), the National Commission for Women (NCW) and UN Women organized a National Consultation on the Review of Beijing+25.
Objective of National Consultation:
- To galvanize all stakeholders to implement actions that remove the most conspicuous barriers to gender equality.
- To bring together civil society and the women and youth of India for the realization of gender equality.
- To assess progress and challenges to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in India over the past 5 year.
- There is a 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women (WCW) and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) therefore it is referred to as Beijing + 25.
Government efforts towards gender equality:
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao was expanded to all 640 districts resulting in the sex ratio from 918 (2014-15) to 931 (2018-19).
- Over 17.43 lakh women were reached out under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY Maternity Benefit Programme) as on September 2018.
- To improve the overall gender responsiveness of the police and encourage participation of women in the force, advisory have been issued to increase representation of women to 33 percent.
- To strengthen the ecosystem for working women and encourage economic participation, extension of maternity leave duration from 12 to 26 weeks and compulsory establishment of crèche in work spaces have been effectuated through legislative amendment.
First Banana Container Train sent to JNPT for Exports
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), along with State Government of Andhra Pradesh and one of the exporter of banana, dispatched the first shipment from Andhra Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai for export to international markets.
- Government of India under Agri Export Policy has notified banana cluster in Anantpur and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Agriculture Export Policy 2018:
- The policy seeks to harness the export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers’ income
- To double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
- To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
- To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
- To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
- To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
- To enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.
Recommendations of the policy:
- Policy Measures – Discussions with public and private stakeholders across the agricultural value chain highlighted certain structural changes that were required to boost agricultural exports.
- These comprise of both general and commodity specific measures that may be urgently taken and at little to no financial cost.
- Infrastructure and logistics – This involves pre-harvest and post-harvest handling facilities, storage & distribution, processing facilities, roads and world class exit point infrastructure at ports facilitating swift trade.
- Mega Food Parks, state-of-the-art testing laboratories and Integrated Cold Chains are the fundamentals on which India can increase its agricultural exports.
- Given the perishable nature and stringent import standards for most of the food products, efficient and time-sensitive handling is extremely vital to agricultural commodities.
- Holistic approach to boost exports – Agricultural exports are determined by supply side factors, food security, processing facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks and several regulations.
- This involves multiple ministries and state departments. Strategic and operational synergy across ministries will be key to boosting productivity and quality.
- Greater involvement of State Governments in Agriculture Exports
- Focus on Clusters: There is a need to evolve and put in place institutional mechanism for effective involvement and engagement of small and medium farmers for entire value chain as group enterprise(s) within cluster of villages at the block level for select produce(s).
- This will help to realize actual benefit and empowerment of farming community to double their income through entire value chain
- Promoting value added exports
- Product development for indigenous commodities and value addition
- Promote value added organic exports
- Promotion of R&D activities for new product Development for the upcoming markets
- Skill development
- Marketing and promotion of “Brand India
- Attract private investments in export oriented activities and infrastructure.
- Establishment of Strong Quality Regimen
- Research and Development – Agricultural research and development (R&D) led by private industry along with higher infrastructure spend by the government will be the key to boosting agricultural exports.
- Miscellaneous- Creation of Agri-start-up fund: Entrepreneurs are to be supported to start a new venture in Agri products exports during their initial period of establishment.
- India is supporting 17.84 per cent of world’s population, 15% of livestock population with merely 2.4 per cent of world’s land and 4 per cent water resources.
- India is currently ranked tenth amongst the major exporters globally as per WTO trade data for 2016.
- India’s share in global exports of agriculture products has increased from 1% a few years ago, to 2.2 % in 2016.
Issues related to Health & Education
State of Pneumonia in India
According to a recently released report by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 14% of under-five deaths in India — approximately 1,27,000 deaths annually — happen due to pneumonia.
- According to the report, the current pneumonia mortality rate in India is five per 1,000 live births and the target is to reduce this to less than three by 2025.
- 14% of under-five deaths in India — approximately 1,27,000 deaths annually — happen due to pneumonia.
- India had the second-highest number of deaths of children under the age of five in 2018 due to pneumonia
- The years have seen some positive improvement, and the numbers have lowered a little from 1,78,000 in 2013.
- It is estimated that half of these deaths are in the northern belt of the country.
- According to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, outdoor air pollution contributes to 17.5 % or nearly one in five pneumonia deaths among children under five worldwide.
- Household pollution from the indoor use of solid cooking fuels contributes to an additional 1,95,000 (29.4 %) deaths.
Need of the hour:
- Right diagnosis and prescribing the right treatment would create ‘a ripple effect’ that would prevent 5.7 million extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time, underscoring need for integrated health services.
- Right treatment also means addressing the major causes of pneumonia deaths like malnutrition, lack of access to vaccines and antibiotics, and tackling the more difficult challenge of air pollution.
- Only a cost-effective, protective, preventative treatment which are able to reach children where they are will be able to truly save millions of lives.
- Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs.
- Vulnerability: The children whose immune systems is weakened by other infections like HIV or by malnutrition, and those living in areas with high levels of air pollution and unsafe water, are at far greater risk.
- While the disease can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics if properly diagnosed, yet tens of millions of children are still going unvaccinated and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care.
For detailed information on Pneumonia, please visit the link given below:
Deposit insurance hiked to Five lakhs
In Union Budget 2020, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has permitted to increase the limit of insurance cover in case of bank failure on deposits to ₹5 lakhs from current ₹1 lakh.
What is Deposit insurance?
- Deposit insurance is providing insurance protection to the depositor’s money by receiving a premium.
- The government has set up Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) under RBI to protect depositors if a bank fails to repay their customers.
- The agency does not directly charge any premium from bank depositors, but, every insured bank pays premium amounting to 0.001% of its deposits to DICGC every year.
What happens when a Bank is liquidated?
- When a bank goes into liquidation then in such a case the DICGC was liable to pay to each depositor through a liquidator appointed by RBI, the amount of his deposit up to Rs 1 lakh within two months from the date of claim list from the liquidator.
- If a bank is reconstructed or amalgamated or merged with another bank, then in such a case the DICGC pays to the bank concerned.
- In case of multiple bank accounts with the same bank, an account will get maximum of up to ₹1 lakh only.
- This insured amount of 1 lakh earlier has been increased to Five lakhs now.
- This deposit guarantee can be released only if the bank gets closed. It cannot be released if the bank is a going concern.
About Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC):
- DICGC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India.
- It was established in 1978 under the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 for the purpose of providing insurance of deposits and guaranteeing of credit facilities.
- The deposit insurance scheme is mandatory for all banks and no bank can voluntarily withdraw from it. However, DICGC has the power to cancel the registration of an insured bank if it fails to pay the premium for three consecutive half-year periods.
Institutions covered under deposit insurance:
- This scheme insures all types of bank deposits including savings, fixed, current and recurring with an insured bank.
- DICGC covers all commercial banks, including Local Area Banks (LABs) and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) in all the States and Union Territories (UTs).
- All Co-operative Banks across the country except three UTs of Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli are also covered by deposit insurance.
- Primary cooperative societies are not insured by the DICGC.
Deposits are not insured by the DICGC?
- Deposits of Foreign governments
- Deposits of Central/state governments
- Inter-bank deposits
- Deposits made in Non-Banking Financial Corporations (NBFCs)
- Deposits of the state land development banks with the state co-operative bank
- Any amount due on account of any deposit received outside India
- Any amount specifically exempted by the DICGC with previous approval of RBI.
[Ref: Live mint, The Hindu, Financial Express]
Dividend Distribution Tax on companies waved off
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under Union Budget 2020-21 has proposed to remove dividend distribution tax on companies, and henceforth the tax will be shifted to recipients at the applicable rate.
What is Dividend Distribution Tax?
- The Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) is a tax levied on dividends that a company pays to its shareholders out of its profits.
- Till now, DDT was taxable at source, and is deducted at the time of the company distributing dividends.
- The dividend is the part of profits that the company shares with its shareholders.
Present laws for DDT:
- The present law provides for the Dividend Distribution Tax to be levied at the hands of the company, and not at the hands of the receiving shareholder.
- The companies are required to pay dividend distribution tax (DDT) on the dividend paid to its shareholders at the rate of 15% plus applicable surcharge and cess, in addition to the tax payable by the company on its profits.
- However, an additional tax was imposed on the shareholder, who received over Rs. 10 lakhs in dividend income in a financial year.
When is the Dividend Distribution Tax paid?
- The tax has to be paid to the government within 14 days of the dividend declaration, distribution or payment whichever is earliest.
- If DDT is not paid within the given time period, interest at a rate of 1 % per month or part thereof starts getting accumulated till the amount is paid. The tax is paid separately, over and above the company’s income tax liability.
What changed now?
- DDT has been removed and the classical system of dividend taxation is adopted under which the companies would not be required to pay DDT.
- The dividend shall be taxed only in the hands of the recipients at their applicable rate.
- The ministry has also proposed deduction for the dividend received by holding company from its subsidiary, to remove the cascading effects.
Problems with earlier provisions:
- The system of levying DDT, results in increased tax burden for investors and especially those who are liable to pay tax less than the rate of DDT, if the dividend is included in their income.
- Further, non-availability of credit of DDT to most of the foreign investors in their home country results in reduction of rate of return on equity capital for them.
- Market participants, especially brokers, have been calling for long to scrap the DDT. The tax makes markets unattractive as it leads to significant taxation of corporate earnings.
- It is expected to make India more attractive market for investment and to provide relief to a large class of investors.
- However, it would result in a revenue loss of Rs 25,000 crore per annum to the Central government.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary
A three-year-old child fell off a moving van in Agumbe Ghat Road which is a part of Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary that is frequented by predatory animals.
Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary:
- It is located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.
- It is mostly made up of evergreen forests, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests.
- It is placed close to the Kudremukh National Park.
- River flows through the sanctuary is sitanadi.
- Endangered species are found in this sanctuary are Lion Tailed Macaque, Tiger, Dhole (wild dog).
Yellow Rust disease
The detection of yellow rust disease in the wheat crop in sub-mountainous parts of Punjab and Haryana has raised anxiety among farmers about drop in the crop’s yield.
What is a Yellow Rust disease?
- Yellow rust is a fungal disease which turns the crop’s leaves into a yellowish colour and stops photosynthesis activity, which eventually could result in a drop of wheat crop productivity.
- It appears as yellow stripes of powder or dust on leaves and leaf sheaths of the wheat crop.
- The rust colonies in the leaves drain the carbohydrates from the plant and reduce the green leaf area.
- According to the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) advisory, if farmers observe yellow rust in patches in their wheat fields, they should spray fungicides.
- It is a major disease in the Northern Hill Zone and the North-Western Plain Zone and spreads easily during the onset of cool weather and when wind conditions are favourable.
- Rain, dew and fog favour the disease’s development.
- Last year, a new variety of wheat called HD-3226 or Pusa Yashasvi was released by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which had higher levels of resistance against major rust fungi such as the yellow/stripe, brown/leaf and black/stem.
- Wheat is the main Rabi (winter) crop, sown between late October till December while the harvesting of the crop will start from April onwards.
Bilateral & International Relations
Brexit: The UK has officially left the EU
Britain will officially depart from the European Union, 1,317 days after voting in favor of leaving the bloc in a referendum that plunged the country into a three-year-long debate over its future.
What is Brexit?
- Brexit (British exit) refers to the United Kingdom leaving the EU.
- A public vote (known as a referendum) was held in June 2016, when 17.4 million people opted for Brexit.
What is the European Union?
- The EU is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries.
- It allows free trade that means goods can move between member countries without any checks or extra charges.
- The EU also allows free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose.
- The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community) and it will be the first member state to withdraw.
What happens after Brexit day?
- After the UK formally leaves the EU on 31 January 2020, there is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.
- While the UK has agreed the terms of its EU departure, both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.
- This will be worked out during the transition period (which some prefer to call the implementation period), which begins immediately after Brexit day and is due to end on 31 December 2020.
- During this 11-month period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.
[Ref: The Hindu]