Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 24, 2017

Festivals

Sangai Festival – 2017

Where – Manipur

  • The annual Sangai Festival was celebrated in the northeastern state of Manipur.
  • It is grandest festival of the state to promote Manipur as a world class tourism destination.
  • The festival showcases tourism potential of Manipur in field of arts & culture, handloom, handicrafts, indigenous sports, cuisine, music and adventure sports of the state etc.

Enlighten about the Festival

  • The focus areas of the festival will reflect Manipur’s proud cultural heritage and love for art which is inherent amongst various tribes inhabiting state. ‘Ras Leela’, state’s classical dance form along with various other folk dance performances like Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Kabui Naga dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance etc. which will be showcased at the festival.
  • Indigenous sports such as martial arts- Thang Ta (a combination Spear and Sword skills), Mukna Kangjei (game that combines hockey and wrestling), Yubi-Lakpi (game played with greased coconut like rugby) and Sagol Kangjei- Modern Polo (believed to have evolved in Manipur) will be also showcased festival.

Enlighten about the background of the fest

  • The festival is named after state animal, Sangai, the critically endangered brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur’s Keibul Lamjao National Park, only floating national park in the world.
  • It was started in 2010 and has grown over years into big platform for Manipur to showcase its rich tradition and culture to the world.

Governance

New Direct Tax Legislation ( draft) – constitution of task force by the Govt.

  • The Union Finance Ministry has constituted task force to review Income Tax (IT) Act 1961 and draft new direct tax law in consonance with current economic needs.
  • CBDT member Arbind Modi will be convener of task force. Chief Economic Adviser Dr. Arvind Subramanian will be its permanent Special Invitee.

Terms of Reference of Task Force

  • Taskforce main mandate is to draft appropriate Direct Tax Legislation keeping in view direct tax system prevalent in various countries, international best practices.
  • It will also take into consideration, economic needs of country and any other matter connected thereto.

Enlighten about it

  • During 2017 Rajaswa Gyan Sangam held in September, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had observed that IT Act, 1961 was drafted more than 50 years ago and it needs to be re-drafted.
  • Rajaswa Gyan Sangam is an annual conference of senior tax administrators to enable two-way communication between policy-makers and senior officers in field offices with view to increase revenue collection and facilitate effective implementation of law and policies in key result areas.

Government Schemes

Swachh Iconic Places

  • A National Consultation of Swachh Iconic Places (SIP)was recently held at New Delhi. Representatives from 20 Iconic Sites including central and State officials, representatives of iconic places and Corporate and development partners including World Bank took part in the consultations.

Swachh Iconic Places (Phase -1)

Enlighten about Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) -

  • Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) is an initiative of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Initiated as a project to implement Prime Minister’s vision to take iconic places and their surroundings to higher standards of Swachhata, so that all visitors benefit and also take away home the message of cleanliness, Swachh Iconic Places is now in its second phase.
  • Implementation of the project:
  • SIP is a truly collaborative project with three other central Ministries: Urban Development, Culture, Tourism; all levels in the concerned States and more importantly, Public Sector and Private companies as partners.
  • Ten New Iconic sites identified under Phase II are: 1. Gangotri, 2. Yamunotri, 3. Mahakaleshwar Temple, 4. Charminar, 5. Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, 6. Kalady, 7. Gomateshwar, 8. Baijnath Dham, 9. Gaya Tirth and 10. Somnath temple.

Brics

BRICS bank

  • The Shanghai-based BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has approved two infrastructure and sustainable development projects in India and Russia with loans of $400 million.
  • The loans will be used to rehabilitate the Indira Gandhi canal system in India and to build a toll transport corridor connecting Ufa city centre to the M-5 federal highway in Russia.

Enlighten about NDB

  • It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
  • It is seen as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
  • The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
  • The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
  • The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, China.
  • Voting: Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.

Functions of ADB –

  • The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

World Trade Organisations

WTO: India resolute on food security

  • At the upcoming WTO’s Ministerial Conference, India has decided not to agree to severe restrictions on its right to give price subsidies to farmers through the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure grains from them for food security purposes. Food security and protection of low-income and resource-poor farmers are top priority items for India at the WTO meet.

Present mechanism

  • Currently, an interim mechanism called the ‘Peace Clause’ is in place, as per which WTO members had agreed not to challenge developing nations at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if they breached the cap of the product-specific domestic support (which is 10% of the value of production).
  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes.

Why is it difficult to invoke peace clause?

  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is difficult to invoke even in its current form because prior to using it, the country concerned will have to first admit that it ‘is breaching’ or ‘is about to breach’ the ceiling entitlement to give product-specific domestic support.
  • Also, the ‘Peace Clause’ can be used only for public stockholding programmes that have been in existence on the date at which it was agreed upon at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and not for new programmes on public stockholding for food security purposes.

Challenges ahead:
The prospects of an agreement on a permanent solution are not that bright due to three roadblocks.

  • First, the U.S. has not been engaging actively on the matter till recently, and if the U.S. does not give its nod, it will be difficult to arrive at a decision.
  • Second, the European Union has tried to link the permanent solution with outcomes including stringent disciplines on domestic support given by developing nations.
  • Lastly, most WTO members are of the opinion that there should be a commitment on prohibition of exports from public stockholding saying such exports would be trade-distorting.

Health Care

World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health

  • 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being held in New Delhi, India.
  • The Conference is being organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with the support of WHO Country Office for India and in partnership with Indian Society of International Law.
  • The objective of the Conference is to exchange knowledge and expand understanding on contemporary issues in international trade laws and research and innovation for access to medical products to achieve SDG 2030 agenda.