India-fifth-largest-military-spender-in-the-world-SIPRI-featured
Current Affair Analysis

4th May 2018 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

India fifth largest military spender in the world: SIPRI; UMANG App; Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO); Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme; World Gold Council; Advance Pricing Agreement (APA); AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index; Bhupathy’s shieldtail; Varuna Exercise 2018; Location of Reunion Island; 3rd May: World Press Freedom Day; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
May 04, 2018

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Now pensioners can view passbook using Umang app

Government Schemes & Policies

  • National Conference of 244 selected Districts under BBBP

Economy

  • India’s gold demand falls by 12% in first quarter: WGC
  • CBDT achieves another milestone by signing its 200th UAPA in April, 2018
  • India slips 3 notches to 11th spot in AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • New snake found in Western Ghats

Defence & Security Issues

  • India fifth largest military spender in the world: SIPRI
  • Indian, French navies begin final phase of Varuna exercise

Key Facts for Prelims

3rd May: World Press Freedom Day

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Now pensioners can view passbook using Umang app

EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation) has announced the introduction of a new service for pensioners through the Umang App.

  • Under the new facility, a pensioner can view his pension passbook on the app.

All about UMANG App:

  • The UMANG App was launched with an aim to make the government accessible on the mobile phone of the citizens.
  • UMANG stands for ‘Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance’ and is envisaged to make e-governance.
  • Umang is an initiative to promote Digital India program.
  • The app was developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).

Key features of UMANG App

UMANG app iastoppers

  • The UMANG App provides a unified approach where you can install one application to avail multiple government services.
  • It contains 162 services of 33 departments or applications and 4 States.
  • It is a single mobile app that have an access to 1200 services of various government offices from Centre, State and utility services.
  • It provides all pan India e-Gov services like Aadhaar and Digilocker on one single platform.
  • Whether one needs to pay utility bills, file income tax, book a gas cylinder, know about your Provident fund account or have Aadhaar related query, UMANG provides all these services.

About EPFO:

  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), is a statutory body of the Government of India under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  • It administers a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme (1952), Pension Scheme (1995) and Insurance Scheme (1976). The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed.
  • It is one of the largest social security organisations in India in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and the volume of financial transactions undertaken.
  • The EPFO’s apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

National Conference of 244 selected Districts under BBBP

The Ministry of Women and Child Development recently held a National Conference of 244 Districts under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) in New Delhi.

  • The Nodal Officers of 244 Districts, State Nodal Officers and Senior officers were part of the conference.

About the BBBP scheme:

ias toppers Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched on 22ndJanuary, 2015 at Panipat in Haryana.
  • It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.
  • The scheme aims at improving the trend of declining child sex ratio (CSR) in the country—which, according to Census 2011 data, has plummeted from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and 918 in 2011—and promoting gender equality.
  • The scheme focuses on challenging mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy in the societal system, strict enforcement of PC&PNDT Act, advancing education of the girl child: focus is on issues of women empowerment on a life cycle continuum.
  • In the first phase, 100 districts with low CSR were selected for BBBP Scheme implementation for creating awareness and advocacy about the issue.
  • During the last one year, the BBBP Scheme is being implemented under the overall guidance and supervision of concerned District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioners.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

India’s gold demand falls by 12% in first quarter: WGC

As per WGC’s ‘Gold Demand Trends’ report, the global gold demand fell by 7% to 973 tonne during the January-March period this year as compared to the same period last year mainly due to a decline in investment demand.

  • The gold demand in India declined by 12 per cent in the first quarter of this year to 115.6 tonne compared to the same period last year due to high local gold price.

Highlights of the report:

  • ETF inflows were down year-on-year.
  • Investment in gold bars and coins was down.
  • Jewelry demand was flat.
  • Central banks bought more gold.
  • Gold supply up 3 percent year-on-year.

Reasons for decline:

  • The decline in demand can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the rising local gold prices, a substantial drop in the number of auspicious wedding days during the period compared to the previous year, and anticipation of an import duty cut in the Union Budget.

About World Gold Council:

The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry.

ias-toppers-World-Gold-Council

  • It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.
  • The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies.
  • It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.
  • Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.
[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India]

CBDT achieves another milestone by signing its 200th UAPA in April, 2018

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) recently achieved another milestone of having signed its 200th Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (UAPA). The total number of APAs entered into by CBDT has gone up to 220, which, inter alia include 20 Bilateral APAs.

What is the meaning of the APA?

An Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) is a contract, usually for multiple years, between a taxpayer and at least one tax authority (CBDT) specifying the pricing method that the taxpayer will apply to its related-company transactions.

  • These programmes are designed to help taxpayers voluntarily resolve actual or potential transfer pricing disputes in a proactive, cooperative manner, as an alternative to the traditional examination process.

About the APA scheme:

The APA scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.

advance-pricing

  • The scheme 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.
  • Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just four years.

Significance of the APA scheme:

  • The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • The Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner. It has contributed significantly towards improving the ease of doing business in India.

About CBDT:

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. It is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  • It provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
  • It is also India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
  • The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS) whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
[Ref: PIB]

India slips 3 notches to 11th spot in AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index

India was ranked 11th position in the FDI Confidence Index 2018 released by global consultancy firm A T Kearney.

About the FDI confidence index:

  • The Foreign Direct Investment Confidence (FDI) Index prepared by A.T. Kearney is an annual survey which tracks the impact of likely political, economic, and regulatory changes on the foreign direct investment intentions and preferences of CEOs, CFOs, and other top executives of Global 1000 companies.
  • The report includes detailed commentary on the markets and the impact a variety of global trade issues have on their FDI attractiveness, as well as a ranking of the top 25 countries.

Highlights of the index:

Global scenario:

  • US topped the list, followed by Canada, while Germany dropped to the third place.
  • The United States tops the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index for the sixth year in a row.
  • The top five countries on the Index have not changed in the past three years, but their relative positions have shifted.
  • While the top 10 likely destinations for FDI were the same in 2016 and 2017, there is a change in the composition of the list this year: Switzerland and Italy enter the top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, edging out India and Singapore.
  • European markets account for more than half of the total positions on this year’s Index as well as half of the top 10.

India’s performance:

  • India is ranked 11th. India was down three notches in the overall ranking from last year.
  • India remains the second highest ranked emerging market on the Index. A variety of recent reforms have made its regulatory environment more business friendly, and economic growth is forecast to rebound this year.
  • Overall, India remains among the top investment destinations due to its market size and rapid economic growth.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

New snake found in Western Ghats

Scientists have discovered a new species of shieldtail snake named Bhupathy’s shieldtail from the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.Bhupathy’s-shieldtail

  • It is presently only known to exist in Anaikatty hills of Tamil Nadu which is dominated by deciduous type of vegetation.

Key Facts:

  • Bhupathy’s shieldtail was named in honour of Dr Subramanian Bhupathy who was a noted Indian herpetologist.
  • Scientifically it is named Uropeltis bhupathyi. It differs from other members of its group as it has a broader and longer head. It also has more number of scales on its belly. The news species is facing threats from habitat loss, road traffic and possible fungal infection that leads to deformed heads.
  • It has been categorised it as ‘data deficient’ in IUCN Red list of threatened species as of now.
  • At present, there are 45 known species of shieldtail snakes around the world, of which 30 are endemic to India and 15 to Sri Lanka.
  • They are non-venomous, mostly burrowing and earthworm-eating, and are called shieldtails after the large, flat tips of their tails, which make them appear almost sliced off.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

India fifth largest military spender in the world: SIPRI

According to recently released report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India has emerged as fifth largest military spender in 2017.

India-fifth-largest-military-spender-in-the-world-SIPRI-featured

Highlights of the report:

  • The world’s five biggest military spenders in 2017 are United States ($610 billion), China ($228 billion), Saudi Arabia (69.4 billion), Russia (66.3 billion) and India ($63.9 billion). They together accounted for 60% of global military spending.
  • The total global military expenditure in 2017 rose to $1,739 billion, a marginal increase of 1.1% in real terms from 2016. It accounted for 2.2% of global gross domestic product in 2017.
  • China was second-largest defence spender globally in 2017.
  • India had spent $63.9 billion on defence in 2017, an increase of 5.5% compared with 2016, when it was in the sixth spot overall.

india's-defence

  • India’s defence spending was higher than that of France ($57.8 billion), UK ($47.2 billion) and Germany ($44.3 billion) in 2017.
  • India has been world’s largest weapons importer in last five years and arms exported by US to India during 2013-17 registered a 557% jump when compared to 2008-12.

India's-defence-2

Reasons for India’s rising defence spending:

It has grown in past decade for several reasons, including mounting salary bill for about 1.4 million serving personnel and pensions for more than 2 million veterans, projects worth billions of dollars to induct new warships, combat fighter jets, helicopters, artillery guns and infantry weapons and to enhance capabilities.

About SIPRI:

  • Established in 1966, it in international institute based in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • It dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources to policymakers, researchers, media and interested public.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Indian, French navies begin final phase of Varuna exercise

Indian and French navies conducted final and third phase of Varuna naval exercise 2018 near Reunion Island in Indian Ocean region (IOR) to enhance their operational coordination.

  • In the final phase, both navies simulated different possible scenarios such as asymmetric warfare and tested their air defence capabilities.

About Varuna Exercise 2018

  • 2018 Varuna naval exercise between Indian and French Navy was conducted in three phases and included anti-submarine, air defence and asymmetric engagement exercises.
  • It was aimed to explore measures to facilitate operational-level interactions between their armed forces and increase mutual cooperation, considering common global threats.

Location of Reunion Island:

Reunion-Island-map

  • It is French island strategically located in Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius.
  • Around 8,50,000 French citizens reside there.
  • It is most prosperous island in the Indian Ocean, having the highest GDP per capita in the region.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

3rd May: World Press Freedom Day

ias toppers World Press Freedom Day

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.
  • The theme for year 2018 is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’.
  • It also marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.
  • World Press Freedom Day was first organized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 in an effort to reflect upon press freedom in the world.
  • This day acts as a reminder of the importance of a free press in a functioning and safe society and serves to commemorate the journalists who have lost their lives in support of free press.
  • UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
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