Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

15thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 15thFebruary,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Japanese Industrial Townships (JITs) in India (PIB)
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess(AIDC) (PIB)
  • Grants to Urban Local Bodies (PIB)
  • Retail Inflation (TH, pg 1)
  • National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) (PIB)
  • Medaram Jathara (PIB)
  • Riverbed Sand Mining: Environmental and Physical Impacts (TH, pg 4)
  • Oath or Affirmation to the Judges of Supreme Court and the High Courts (TH, pg 5)
  • Relations between the Centre and the States (TH, pg 6)
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Priority Pathogens(TH, pg 15)

 

  1. Japanese Industrial Townships (JITs) in India (PIB)

  • Context: A Joint Meeting was held between India (Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT)) and Japan (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)) for annual review of progress under Japanese Industrial Townships (JITs) in India.
Analysis
  • Japan Industrial Townships (JITs) were set up pursuant to the “Action Agenda for the India-Japan Investment and Trade Promotion and Asia-Pacific Economic Integration” signed between METI, Government of Japan and DPIIT, Government of India in April 2015 to take steps to develop “Japan Industrial Townships” in India especially in Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) regions in order to facilitate Japanese investment to India.
  • Japan is the only country that has dedicated country-focused industrial townships across India.
  • These Japanese Industrial Townships (JITs) offer facilities such as, special Japan desks for translation and facilitation support, world class infrastructure facilities, plug and play facilities, residential clusters, and special incentives for Japanese companies.
  • There are ready to move in facilities and fully developed land available for allotment in these townships.

 

  1. Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess(AIDC) (PIB)

  • Context: With a view to provide further relief to consumers and to keep in check any further rise in the prices of domestic edible oils due to rise in the prices of edible oils globally, the Government of India has reduced the agri-cess for Crude Palm Oil (CPO).
Analysis
  • AIDC, to be collected on specific imported and excisable goods,was proposed by the Budget for 2021-22.
  • The purpose of the new AIDC is to raise funds to finance spending on developing agriculture infrastructure aimed at not only boosting production but also in helping conserve and process farm output efficiently.
  • Considering that not much private investment is forthcoming for agriculture, the Centre now seeks to raise a dedicated fund to meet these expenses.
  • The new cess will be levied on 29 products, prominent among which are gold, silver, imported apple, imported alcohol (excluding beer), imported pulses, imported palm oil, imported urea, and petrol/diesel including branded ones (as an additional duty of excise).
  • Social Welfare Surcharge (SWS) would be levied on AIDC. However, exemption from SWS on AIDC has been given on gold and silver.
  • The applicable Road and Infrastructure Cess (RIC) on petrol/diesel remains unchanged.
  • Goods imported under customs duty exemptions available under FTA and EOU as well as under advance authorisation schemes are exempted from AIDC.
  • When customs duty or excise is replaced by cess, the pie from which States get a share tends to shrink.
Difference between the Cess, Surcharge and Usual Taxes
Cess
  • Cess is a kind of special-purpose tax which is levied over and above basic tax rates (a tax on tax).
  • A cess is a levy for a specific purpose and ought to be used for the said purpose only.
  • Generally, cess is expected to be levied till the time the government gets enough money for the earmarked purposeand not for any other purposes.In simple words, a cess tax is an earmarked tax.
  • If the purpose for which the cess is created is fulfilled, it should be eliminated.
  • Article 270 of the Constitution describes a cess.
  • Cess may be levied by the union or state governments.
  • Cess are named after the identified purpose; the purpose itself must be certain and for public good.
  • Every cess is collected after Parliament has authorised its creation through an enabling legislation that specifies the purpose for which the funds are being raised.
  • Article 270 of the Constitution allows cess to be excluded from the purview of the divisible pool of taxes that the Union government must share with the States.
How many cesses does govt. levy?
  • The introduction of the GST in 2017 led to most cesses being done away with and as of August 2018, there were only seven cesses that continued to be levied. These were:
  • Cess on Exports,
  • Cess on Crude Oil,
  • Health and Education Cess,
  • Road and Infrastructure Cess,
  • Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess,
  • National Calamity Contingent Duty on Tobacco and Tobacco Products and
  • the GST Compensation Cess.
  • And in February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced a new cess — a Health Cess of 5% on imported medical devices — in the Finance Bill for 2020-2021.
Surcharge
  • On the other hand, ‘Surcharge’ is an additional charge or tax levied on an existing taximposed for the purposes of the Union.
  • Unlike a cess, which is meant to raise revenue for a temporary need, surcharge is usually permanent in nature.
  • In case no tax is due for a financial year, then no surcharge is levied.
  • A surcharge is dealt with under Article 271 of the Constitution.
  • Surcharges, in India, are used to make the taxation system more ‘progressive’.
  • They are used to ensure that the rich contribute more to the tax kitty than the poor.
  • An example of surcharge is one where individuals earning more than ₹1,00,00,000 annually are required to pay an extra sum amounting to 15% on their income tax.
Following are the difference between the usual taxes, surcharge and cess.
  • The usual taxes go to the consolidated fund of India and can be spent for any purposes.
  • Surcharge also go to the consolidated fund of India and can be spent for any purposes.
  • Cess go to Consolidated Fund of India but can be spent only for the specific purposes for which they have been created.
  • The proceeds collected from a surcharge and a cess levied by the union need not be shared with the State governments and are thus at the exclusive disposal of the union government.
  • The use of usual taxes, cess and surcharges requires appropriation bill to be passed in the Parliament.
  • Hence, it can be seen that the Constitution makes a distinction between a cess and a surcharge and the two cannot be used interchangeably.
From the News

March 2021: Cess, surcharge share doubles to 19.9 pc of central taxes in FY21

  • The share of cesses and surcharges in the gross tax revenue of the Centre has nearly doubled to 19.9 per cent in 2020-21 from 10.4 per cent in 2011-12.
  • Under the existing Finance Commission (FC) framework, the cesses and surcharges collected by the Centre are not part of the tax devolution (‘Cess and surcharge not a subject in the domain of Finance Commission’ apart from taking adverse note of it).
  • And, the massive spike in the same has forced the FC to suggest higher grant-in-aid to the states to compensate for the low growth in tax devolution which is pegged at 41 per cent during the operation of the 15th FC award.
  • The key reason for higher growth in grants-in-aid and lower growth in tax devolution to the states is the increase in the proportion of the central cess and surcharges as they are not part of the tax devolution to the states.
  • As a result, the transfer from the Centre to the states including non-finance commission transfers declined to 48.6 per cent in 2019-20 from 53.4 per cent in 2011-12.

Dec 2020

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its report for FY 2018-19, observed that out of the total ₹2,74,592 crore received from 35 cesses and other charges in 2018-19, merely ₹1,64,322 crore had been transferred to respective funds/boards and the rest was detained by the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The CAG found this objectionable since cess collections are supposed to be transferred to specified Reserve Funds that Parliament has approved for each of these levies.
  • Drawing power from Articles 270 and 271 of the Constitution, the Centre collects cess and deposits it in the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • However, the money is then supposed to be transferred to a segregated fund to be used for specific purpose.
  • Given that the money collected through cess and surcharge are not part of the divisible pool, from which devolution of Central taxes takes place to the States, this increasing share of cess in the Union government’s tax receipts has a direct impact on fiscal devolution.

 

  1. Grants to Urban Local Bodies (PIB)

  • Context: The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance released grants to Urban Local Bodies for the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Sikkim. The grants released are meant for Non-Million Plus cities (NMPCs)including Cantonment Boards.
Analysis
  • The 15thFinance Commission in its report for the period from 2021-22 to 2025-26 has divided the Urban Local Bodies into two categories:
  • (a) Million-Plus urban agglomerations/cities (excluding Delhi and Srinagar), and
  • (b) all other cities and towns with less than one million population (Non-Million Plus cities).
  • The 15thFC has recommended separate grants for them.
  • Out of the total grants recommended by the Commission for Non-Million Plus cities, 40% is basic (untied) grant and the remaining 60% is tied grant.
  • Basic grants (untied) are utilised for location specific felt needs, except for payment of salary and incurring other establishment expenditure.
  • On the other hand, tied grants for the Non-Million Plus cities are released for supporting and strengthening the delivery of basic services.
  • Out of the total tied grant, 50% is earmarked for ‘Sanitation Solid Waste Management and attainment of Star Ratings forGarbage Free Cities as developed by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MOH&UA).
  • The remaining 50% is tied to ‘Drinking water, rainwater harvesting and water recycling’.
  • The tied grants are meant to ensure availability of additional funds to urban local bodies over and above the funds allocated by the Centre and the State for sanitation and drinking water under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes and provide quality services to citizens.

 

  1. Retail Inflation (TH, pg 1)

  • Context:India’s retail inflation accelerated past the 6% mark in January to hit 6.01%, breaching the central bank’s tolerance threshold for consumer price inflation for the first time since June 2021.
Analysis
Retail inflation
  • Inflation means the increase in prices of certain products or commodities compared to a base price.
  • In India, the index which shows the inflation rate at retail level is known as Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • CPI is based on retail prices and this index is used to calculate the Dearness Allowance (DA) for government employees.
Inflation Targets
  • Inflation Target:                      Four per cent.
  • Upper tolerance level:            Six per cent.
  • Lower tolerance level:            Two per cent.
  • In case the inflation target is failed to achieve (2% higher or lower than the set target of 4% for continuous three quarters), the RBI has to give an explanation to the government about the reasons, the remedial actions and the estimated time for realizing the target.
Headline Inflation
  • Headline inflation is the raw inflation figure reported through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Monetary Policy Committee of the RBI uses ‘headline inflation’ to take its decision.
Core Inflation
  • Core inflation removes the CPI components that can exhibit large amounts of volatility from month to month, which can cause unwanted distortion to the headline figure.
  • The most commonly removed factors are those relating to the cost of food and energy.

 

  1. National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) (PIB)

  • Context: The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) has issued the Financial Reporting Quality Review Report (FRQRR) in respect of Prabhu Steels Industries Limited (PSIL) for the Financial Year 2019-20.
Analysis
  • For enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has established the National Financial Reporting Authority as an independent regulator.
  • The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), Ministry of Corporate Affairs,has one post of Chairperson, three posts of full-time Members and one post of Secretary for NFRA.
  • The NFRA was one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013.
  • In making any recommendations, NFRA attempts to keep in mind the implications of such recommendations on the Ease of Doing Business.

 

  1. Medaram Jathara (PIB)

  • Context:The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has sanctioned ₹2.26 Crores for various activities pertaining to Medaram Jathara 2022.
Analysis
  • Medaram Jatara is the second-largest fair of India, after the Kumbh Mela, celebrated by the second-largest Tribal Community of Telangana- the Koya tribe for four days.
  • Medaram Jathara is conducted in honour of the Goddesses Sammakka and Saralamma.
  • It commemorates the fight of a mother and daughter, Sammakka and Saralamma, with the reigning rulers against an unjust law.
  • It is celebrated once in two years in the month of “Magha” (February) on the full moon day.
  • Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Mulugu District, Telangana.
  • At present, the Jathara festival is biennially celebrated and organized by the Koyas in collaboration with the Tribal Welfare Department.

 

  1. Riverbed Sand Mining: Environmental and Physical Impacts (TH, pg 4)
  • Context:Rajasthan allowed legal mining of bajri (riverbed sand) more than four years after the Supreme Court banned the sand mining activities in riverbeds until a scientific replenishment study was completed.
Analysis
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016.
  • The salient features of the Guidelines in this regard are as follows (only the important ones and not the obvious ones):
  • Grant of Environment Clearance for minor minerals, including sand and gravel, for mining lease of area up to 5 hectare will be done by the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority headed by the District Collector/District Magistrate.
  • This decision to delegate powers to the DEIAA was challenged in the National Green Tribunal and was finally set aside.
  • The NGT directed public hearings and EIA for minor mineral mines with 5 to 25 ha area.
  • It added state environment impact assessment authority would evaluate smaller mines of up to 5 ha instead of district environment impact assessment authorities which lack scientific expertise.
  • Removal of sand accumulated on the agricultural field after cessation of flooding will not be considered as mining operation and its removal and selling can be allowed without the requirement of environment clearance till it is done only to the extent of reclaiming the agricultural land.
  • Mine lease renewal will take place every five years for all sand and other aggregate extraction.
  • It suggests that mining should be restricted to a depth of three metres or 10 per cent of the river width, whichever is less, from the banks.
  • For hilly terrain, the depth has been fixed at two metres from river bed level and not less than one metre from the water level of the river channel, whichever is reached earlier.
  • They have also called for a complete stop to any kind of sand extraction from riverine areas during monsoon months (July, August and September).
Geological Survey of India Guidelines on Sand Mining:
  • Abandoned stream channels and inactive floodplains may be preferred for mining.
  • Mining below subterranean water level should be avoided.
  • Large rivers and streams whose periodic sediment replenishment capacity are larger, may be preferred than smaller rivers.
  • Segments of braided river system should be used. Scraping of sediment bars above the water flow level in the lean period may be preferred for sustainable mining.
Harmful effects of sand mining
  • Ecological Impacts:
  • reduced light penetration.
  • reduced primary production.
  • reduced feeding opportunities.
  • adversely impacting the habitat of micro-organisms.
  • Physical Impacts:
  • erosion of channel bed and banks.
  • increase in channel slope.
  • the undercutting and collapse of river banks.
  • upstream erosion as a result of an increase in channel slope and changes in flow velocity.
  • downstream erosion due to increased carrying capacity of the stream.
  • saline water may intrude into the fresh water-body.
  • drop in groundwater table.
  • forces the river to change its course (sand and boulders prevent the river from changing the course and act as a buffer for the riverbed).
Sand is a Minor Mineral
  • In India, the minerals are classified as minor minerals and major minerals.
  • According to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 “Minor Minerals” means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, marble, ordinary sand, mica, gypsum, dolomite
  • Major minerals are those specified in the first schedule appended in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act 1957) and the common major minerals are Lignite, Coal, Uranium, iron ore, gold etc.
  • It may be noted that there is no official definition for “major minerals” in the MMDR Act.
  • Hence, whatever is not declared as a “minor mineral” may be treated as the major mineral.
  • The major-minor classification has nothing to do with the quantum /availability of these minerals, though it is correlated with the relative value of these minerals.
  • Further, this classification is based more on their end use, rather than level of production, level of mechanization, export and import etc.
  • The power to frame policy and legislation relating to minor minerals is entirely delegated to the State Governments while policy and legislation relating to the major minerals are dealt by the Ministry of Mines under Union /Central Government.
  • However, the central government has the power to notify “minor minerals” under the MMDR Act, 1957.
  • On the other hand, State Governments have complete powers for making Rules for grant of concessions in respect of extraction of minor minerals and levy and collection of royalty on minor minerals.
District Mineral Foundation (DMF)
  • District Mineral Foundation (DMF) is a trust set up as a non-profit body, in those districts affected by the mining works, to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining related operations.
  • It is funded through the contributions from miners.
  • Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.
  • Setting up of District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) in all districts in the country affected by mining related operations was mandated through the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, (MMDRA) 2015.
  • Further, using the funds generated by this contribution, the DMFs are expected to implement the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY), launchedfor the welfare of mining areas and affected population.
  • Under the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), natural resources (including forest produce, water sources and minor minerals) are to be managed and owned by the Gram Sabha.
NGT overruled the Environment ministry’s notifications
  • Recently, the NGT has overruled the Environment ministry’s notifications that exempted mining of minor minerals like sand in upto 25 hectare area from EIA. The NGT directed public hearings and EIA for minor mineral mines with 5 to 25 ha area.
  • It added state environment impact assessment authority would evaluate smaller mines of up to 5 ha instead of district environment impact assessment authorities which lack scientific expertise.

 

  1. Oath or Affirmation to the Judges of Supreme Court and the High Courts (TH, pg 5)

  • Context: Tamil Nadu Governor administered the oath of office to Madras High Court Chief Justice.
Analysis
  • The Madras High Courtis the second oldest High Court in India. It has jurisdiction over the State of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
  • The Calcutta High Court is the oldest High Court in India. It has jurisdiction over the State of West Bengal and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Oath or Affirmation
  • A person appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court/High Court, before entering upon his Office, has to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation before the President/Governor, or some person appointed by him for this purpose.
  • In his oath, a judge of the Supreme Court/High Court swears:
  • 1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
  • 2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India;
  • 3. to duly and faithfully and to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of the Office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; and
  • 4. to uphold the Constitution and the laws.

 

  1. Relations between the Centre and the States (TH, pg 6)

  • Context:The Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, Mamata Banerjee and M.K. Stalin, respectively, have jointly proposed a convention of non-BJP Chief Ministers.
Analysis
  • Relations between the Centre and the States ruled by Opposition parties are strained due to various factors, ranging from questions related to GST, the partisan behaviour of central agencies, the Centre’s move to give itself absolute powers in the transfer of IAS, IPS and IFS officers and the overbearing attitude of several Governors.
  • The relations among States are also fraying in many instances even as the Centre’s moral authority to be a neutral arbiter is at a low.
  • The tendency to mobilise political support in one State by berating other States, though not new, seems to have acquired an additional edge in recent times.
Committees/Commissions on the Centre-State Relations
  • The Committees/Commissions on the Centre-State relations in the order they were constituted: Rajamannar Committee > Sarkaria Commission > Puncchhi Commission

 

  1. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Priority Pathogens(TH, pg 15)

  • Context: AMR is a leading cause of death around the world, with the highest number of deaths occurring in low-resource settings.
  • The six leading pathogens for deaths associated with resistance included E. coli, S. aureus, K. pneumoniae, S. pneumoniae, A. baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • They accounted for 73.4 % of the deaths attributable to AMR, and have been identified as priority pathogens by WHO.
  • Note: You have already prepared this topic in detail from the25th Jan 2022 file.