Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 24, 2018

Government Initiatives

“Main Nahin Hum” Portal and App

Connect to the Portal

  • The portal, which works on the theme “Self4Society”, will enable IT professionals and organizations to bring together their efforts towards social causes, and service to society, on one platform.
  • In doing so, the portal is expected to help catalyse greater collaboration towards the service of the weaker sections of society, especially by leveraging the benefits of technology.
  • It is also expected to generate wider participation of interested people who are motivated to work for the benefit of society.

Health Sector

Workshop on Health and Nutrition Initiatives under Aspirational District Programme

Implementing agencies

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development, organized a one-day National Workshop for Orientation of District Officials of Aspirational Districts on Health and Nutrition, here today.
  • It is a first of its kind initiative by identifying 117 districts under the ‘Aspirational Districts’ Programme with an aim to quickly and effectively transform them.
  • 117 districts have been identified for rapid transformation and inclusive growth.
  • The Reproductive Maternal New born Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) program is an important pillar which will be strengthened under Aspirational Districts Programme.
  • The operational guidelines on Aspirational Districts will provide a framework for implementing action to be undertaken for various health initiatives to guide the state, district, block programme officers and other stakeholders
  • The e-Mitra (Mobile Integrated Toolkit RMNCH+A ) app has been designed to complement the Aspirational District Programme and offers one stop solution to access RMNCH+A related statistics from different sources through a combination of approaches.

Connect to the Aspirational districts

  • The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform these districts.
  • The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
  • With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • The Government is committed to raising the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all – “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”.
  • To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this program focusses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy. Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
  • After several rounds of consultations with various stakeholders, 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts.
  • Districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.
  • NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts.
  • District Information Officers underwent training on March 23, 2018 on how to enter data to the dashboard and generate MIS (Management Information System) reports. On April 1, 2018 districts will start entering data.
  • Beginning May 2018, districts will be ranked based on progress made (‘delta ranking’) on a real-time basis. The dashboard will be open to the public to monitor the progress of the aspirational districts.

Economy

Increase in Direct tax base

Direct tax base widens sharply over 4 years, compliance rises

What

  • The direct tax base has significantly widened in the last few years, according to new back series data released by the government.
  • The data showed a growth of more than 80% in the number of returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in financial year (FY) 2013-14 to 6.85 crore (these figures include revised returns) in FY 2017-18.
  • Further, the number of persons filing income tax returns also increased by about 65% during this period from 3.31 crore in FY 2013-14 to 5.44 crore in FY 2017-18.
  • There has been continuous increase in the amount of income declared in the returns filed by all categories of taxpayers over the last three assessment years

Connects to the reasons behind this

  • There may be four reasons for increase in the number of tax returns
  • One, the effect of demonetisation, two, the increase in the use of information being collected digitally and being used by the tax department. Three, the movement towards digital assessment and decrease in the number of cases being picked up for scrutiny, and four, the ease of getting refund, majorly by small and medium taxpayers.
  • The data also showed that the direct tax-GDP ratio rose to 5.98% in FY 2017-18, the highest it has been in the last 10 years.
  • The overall number of taxpayers (including corporates, firms, and Hindu Undivided Families) declaring an income above 1 crore a year also saw a sharp growth over the three years under consideration.
  • The number of individual taxpayers disclosing income above ₹1 crore increased during the period under reference from 48,416 to 81,344, which translates into a growth of 68%.

Commerce & Industry

SIAL Paris exhibition

What

  • Forty-five Indian companies are participating in the SIAL Paris exhibition – the largest international market place for food service professionals.
  • Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) has inaugurated a special Indian pavilion in the ongoing mega exhibition for the participating companies.
  • SIAL Paris is the leading exhibition of food service products with more than 7020 French and international exhibitors from 109 countries displaying their foodstuffs, ranging from ingredients to processed products, including fresh produce.

Connect to the exhibition

  • This exhibition is an ideal platform for the Indian participants to explore the business opportunities for trade, acquaint with new consumer trends, food innovations, food services, marketing tie-ups and joint ventures.
  • The exhibition is one of the most important get-togethers of buyers and sellers interested in dairy products, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, tinned and preserved foods, semi-processed food products, organic products, health products and food supplements, seafood, and ready-prepared dishes, pet and poultry products and equipment and services.

Connect to SIAL Paris

  • SIAL Paris is held every two years, and is famous for culinary demonstrations by famous chefs every day.
  • This unique culinary show stages SIAL Paris exhibitors’ products on the basis of current topics and trends: locavore cooking, fresh attitude, trends and textures, besides live cuisine lessons.
  • Buyers throng this exhibition to discover fresh produce and raw supplies and Indian companies are making their mark felt through their products and cuisine.

Bilateral Relations

India – Czech Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation held in Prague

What

  • The eleventh session of India – Czech Republic Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation (JCEC) was held at Prague.
  • The deliberations were marked with the mutual desire to further expand and strengthen relations between the two countries in the economic field.
  • The Czech side stressed that the Czech Government continues to rank India among the priority countries for promotion of mutual commercial, investment and economic activities and stated that Czech companies are interested to cooperate with Indian partners within the framework of the ‘Make in India’ programme.

Czech Industrial Cluster (CIC)

  • Czechoslovakia is preparing a project called Czech Industrial Cluster (CIC) near Bengaluru.
  • The CIC will comprise administrative and production units and will serve as a hub for Czech companies that intend to settle down in India.
  • The CIC may also serve as a base of inter-academic cooperation between both the countries.
  • The Czech side would appreciate support and cooperation of Indian authorities during creating CIC units and in setting of conditions for Czech investors coming to CIC.

Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)

  • The two sides reaffirmed their support to finalizing an ambitious and balanced Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the EU.
  • The Czech side noted that India is one of the most important partners for the EU and liberalization of our markets would be beneficial in the long term for both sides.
  • The India side stated that India is committed to an early and balanced outcome of India-EU BTIA negotiations of which investment is an important track.

Connect to India – EU BTIA negotiation

  • There have been talks concerning the Bilateral Trade Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the European Union since 2007, but a deadlock has been in place since 2013. While there have been many ups and downs in the trade between both the sides, India is finally set to resume the free trade agreement (FTA) with EU.
  • The BTIA talks hit a roadblock on the contentious issues of import duty on European cars and alcohol (wines and spirits) levied by India, and recognition of India as a 'data-secure’ nation by the EU.
  • India also wants a greater access for its professionals in the EU.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change

3rd Decadal International year of Reefs-2018

What

  • The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) with the theme “Reef for Life” was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

Where

  • Bangaram - coral Island of Union Territory of Lakshadweep.

Connect to the conference

  • About 150 delegates both International and National, are participating in this mega event at Bangaram Island from 22nd to 24thOctober, 2018.
  • The delegates and keynote speakers for technical deliberations have come from United State America, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Italy, France, Maldives and Sri lanka.
  • The conference highlighted the importance of coral reefs and the need for its protection, emphasising on converting science into adequate policies for conservation.
  • Evolving effective management strategies leading to restoration of coral reef, along with the practice of green good deed for behavioral change and social responsibility in day to day life was also emphasized.
  • Lakshadweep will establish an International Atoll Research Centre, with world class infrastructures for scientific research on corals.

Connect to the inception of STAPCOR

  • The effect of climate change and global warming along with Elnino on the corals lead to heavy bleaching internationally during the year 1998, this lead to the foundation of STAPCOR with a decision to have a international conference in every 10 years to review the status and progress of coral reefs all over the world.
  • The Department of Environment and Forest, Union Territory of Lakshadweep Administration organised this mega conference with the technical support of Zoological Survey of India and in association with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, IUCN, ENVIS in consonance with declaration of the year 2018 as 3rddecadal International year of Reefs.

Connect to Coral reefs

  • A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals.
  • Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate.
  • Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.
  • Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
  • Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect the coral. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated water.
  • Often called "rainforests of the sea", shallow coral reefs form some of Earth's most diverse ecosystems.
  • They occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species,including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates and other cnidarians.
  • Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas

International

World’s longest sea bridge 55-km structure will deepen integration of Hong Kong and Macao with rest of China

What

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping oinaugurated a 55-km bridge that will deepen the integration of Hong Kong and Macao with the rest of China.
  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge will be at the heart of an integrated Greater Bay Area (GBA) covering 11 major neighbouring cities, which include Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
  • The giant GBA comprising 68 million people is expected to rival the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S., as well as the Tokyo Bay Area of Japan.
  • From a passenger clearance building of the Zhuhai Port in mainland China, President Xi announced the opening of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge (HMZB).
  • The opening of the bridge docks with the start of a bullet train last month between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the gateway to the rest of mainland China.
  • The bridge has been built to withstand super-typhoons, a magnitude-8 earthquake, as well as hits by super-sized cargo ships. A 6.7 km underground sea tunnel to allow uninterrupted flow of shipping above, along the super-busy Pearl River Delta, is also part of the bridge’s design.

Sources – PIB ,The Hindu , Indian express