Polity & Governance
- Second meeting of Island Development Agency
Issues related to Health & Education
- India’s Second Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC)
- India slips to 7th position in business optimism ranking: Grant Thornton survey
- GST advisory group in favour of expanding composition scheme
Bilateral & International Relations
- India demands transparency in UN Security Council reform
- India inks energy work programme with IEA, key members
- China urges India to join Belt and Road Initiative
Art & Culture
- Chennai now part of UNESCO’s ‘creative cities network’
Key Facts for Prelims
- Asian Boxing Championships
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Polity & Governance
Second meeting of Island Development Agency
- The IDA was set up on 1st June, 2017 following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the development of islands.
- The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister.
Members of the IDA include:
- Cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, forests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare).
Why in news?
Recently, the second meeting of Island Development Agency (IDA) was held in New Delhi.
- It was chaired by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
- It reviewed concept development plans and detailed master plans for holistic development of 9 islands (four in A&N Islands i.e. Smith, Ross, Long, Avis) and (five in Lakshadweep i.e. Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli).
What has been discussed?
- In this meeting, IDA decided to develop an airport at Minicoy Island to boost tourism and promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep.
- It was decided that the Naval Air Station at Shibpur near Diglipur in northern Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be co-used as joint user airport.
- it was also decided to develop a public-private partnership (PPP) package including a airport (joint user airport) at Minicoy Island, to unlock the tourism potential.
- It was agreed to promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep.
- All concerned agencies were directed to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in islands and develop community based tourism in consultation with local stakeholders.
- NITI Aayog was also asked to drive the formulation of PPP projects and proposed detailed guidelines to boost private sector participation. It aims at promoting and implementing development based on sustainable approach to building thriving maritime economy of project islands.
Issues related to Health & Education
India’s Second Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC)
India’s second Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) will be established at Centre for Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), Anna University, Chennai (Tamil Nadu) under World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) TISC (Technology and Innovation Support Centre) Program.
- In this regard, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry has signed Institutional agreement with Anna University.
- India’s first Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC) will come up at Patent Information Centre, Punjab.
About TISC program:
- TISCs will be set up under WIPO’s Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISC) program.
- The programme provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their intellectual property (IP) rights.
Services offered by TISCs may include:
- Access to online patent and non-patent (scientific and technical) resources and IP-related publications;
- Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information;
- Training in database search;
- On-demand searches (novelty, state-of-the-art and infringement);
- Monitoring technology and competitors;
- Basic information on industrial property laws, management and strategy, and technology commercialization and marketing.
- The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) is designated as the National Focal point for the TISC national network.
- As the national focal point, CIPAM shall identify potential host institutions, assess their capacities and support them in joining the TISC project.
- CIPAM will also act as the main intermediary between WIPO and TISC host institutions and coordinate all the activities of the national TISC network.
- Over 500 TISCs operate worldwide and establishing TISC in India will give the host institutions an access to the global network.
Created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
- It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.
- India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.
India slips to 7th position in business optimism ranking: Grant Thornton survey
According to the most recent Grant Thornton International Business Report India has slipped to the 7th position in the Business Optimism Index (BOI) in the September quarter, from the second position in the previous three months.
- The survey suggests that this ranking is showing the clear signs of lag in the economy.
About Business Optimism Index:
- The index was released as part of Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR).
- The IBR provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses per year across 36 economies.
Highlights of the report:
- As per Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), Indonesia is at the top of the index, followed by Finland (2nd), the Netherlands (3rd), Philippines (4th), Austria (5th) and Nigeria (6th).
- According to this quarterly Business Optimism Index, Indian businesses have shown a little confidence over revenue expectations in the next one year.
- There is also a drastic fall in confidence for profitability with 54% showing optimism as against 69% in the last quarter.
- As per survey other factors like expectations of a boost in selling prices and exports have also suffered a slight fall in optimism in this quarter.
- Indian businesses remained optimistic about the boost in employment as 54% respondents articulated the need to increase hiring in the next one year, a 3-point rise from June quarter.
- Other areas where the optimism remained intact were an investment in plant and machinery and Research & Development (R&D).
- Indian businesses also identified a shortage of finance and lack of skilled workforce as pain points of India Inc taking the 2nd and the 3rd spot respectively.
GST advisory group in favour of expanding composition scheme
The advisory group set up to suggest changes to the GST Act deliberated on how to expand the scope of the composition scheme as well as rationalise the reverse charge mechanism process.
About the Composition scheme:
The composition scheme is an alternative method of levy of tax designed for small taxpayers whose turnover is up to Rs 1 crore — Rs 50 lakh in the case of eight north-eastern states and the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh.
- The objective behind it is to bring simplicity and reduce the compliance cost for small taxpayers.
- The scheme is optional under which manufacturers other than those of ice cream, pan masala and tobacco products have to pay a 2% tax on their annual turnover.
- The tax rate is 5% for restaurant services and 1% for traders.
- As per the Central GST Act, businesses are eligible to opt for the composition scheme if a person is not engaged in any inter-state outward supplies of goods and not into making any supply of goods through an electronic commerce operator who is required to collect tax at source.
Benefits of the Composition scheme:
- While a regular taxpayer has to pay taxes on a monthly basis, a composition supplier is required to file only one return and pay taxes on a quarterly basis.
- Also, a composition taxpayer is not required to keep detailed records that a normal taxpayer is supposed to maintain.
Bilateral & International Relations
India demands transparency in UN Security Council reform
India said at a plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly that the United Nations Security Council does not reflect “contemporary realities” and has become dysfunctional because of the lack of reform in the institution.
- India has demanded transparency in the UN Security Council reform process so that the people could know what is preventing the members from translating discussions into a negotiating text for the much- needed revamping of the world body’s top organ.
About United Nations Security Council (UNSC):
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
- It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
- The Security Council consists of fifteen members.
- Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
- The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.
Reform of the UNSC encompasses five key issues:
- Categories of membership,
- The question of the veto held by the five permanent members,
- Regional representation,
- The size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and
- The Security Council-General Assembly relationship.
There is also a proposal to admit more permanent members.
Why India should be given a permanent seat in the council?
Arguments in favour of:
- India is the largest democracy in the world and one of the largest economies.
- India was among the founding members of United Nations.
- India has stronger economy than Russia, which is a permanent member of Security Council.
- India has been elected seven times as a non permanent member of the UNSC. It has been a member of UNSC for 7 terms and a member of G-77 and G-4, so permanent membership is a logical extension.
- In terms of population, India stands second.
- India is a nuclear weapon state.
- India is the second largest and a one of the largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions. Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the UN’s five big powers combined.
- India has one of the best armed forces in the world.
- In space research, India’s ISRO is one of the world’s best.
- There are some other countries that are economically much better than India, and not a part of UNSC.
- India is one of the countries having lowest Human Development Index.
- India is the second most unequal country, with most of the wealth is in the hands of the rich.
What India can do to get permanent seat at UNSC?
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express, Wiki]
India inks energy work programme with IEA, key members
India has signed joint work programmes with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and some key members at IEA’s latest ministerial meeting in Paris.
- Representatives from the 29 IEA member countries; accession countries Chile and Mexico; association countries China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore and Thailand; and partner countries Brazil and South Africa.
- CEOs from 30 top global energy companies.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
- The IEA works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy to its 29 member countries.
- The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia.
- The Agency’s mandate has broadened to focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.
- IEA member countries are required to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year’s net imports.
China urges India to join Belt and Road Initiative
China counselled India to shed its objections to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which had already drawn wide international support.
- India was among a handful of countries that had skipped attendance in Beijing of the Belt and Road Forum in May, objecting to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passed through Kashmir.
All about China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative:
Visit IASToppers’ Mains Article at: http://www.iastoppers.com/one-belt-one-road-obor-initiative-india-join/[Ref: The Hindu]
Art & Culture
Chennai now part of UNESCO’s ‘creative cities network’
Chennai, capital city of Tamil Nadu was recently included in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO’s) Creative Cities Network for Contribution in Music.
- It was among 64 cities from 44 countries that were designated as UNESCO Creative Cities.
- With inclusion of these cities, total count of UNESCO Creative Cities Network has now gone up to 180 cities in 72 countries.
- Chennai is the third Indian city on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities list after Jaipur (added as City of Music) and Varanasi (City of Crafts and Folk Art) were added last year.
About UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN):
- The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
- The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature and Music.
- The 180 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.
Key Facts for Prelims
Asian Boxing Championships
- Five time world champion Mary Kom won gold medal in Asian Women’s Boxing Championships in Light Flyweight (48 kg) category.
- She defeated North Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi.
- This is Mary Kom’s sixth medal in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championships and fifth gold medal, having won four gold medals and one silver medal in previous editions of the tournament.