geography

Arctic Region and Arctic Council

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.

8 Jul, 2020

BRAHMAPUTRA AND ITS TRIBUTARIES

About Brahmaputra River: The Brahmaputra called Yarlung

3 Jul, 2020
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    Current Affairs – 24th June 2022

    1.   PREPAID PAYMENT INSTRUMENTS (PPIS)

    • News: The Reserve Bank of India said prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) must not be loaded through credit lines from non-bank lenders, sending the wallet and buy-now-pay-later industry into confusion.
    • Details:
      • Some fintechs in India tie up with banks to issue prepaid cards. At the same time, they partner an NBFC (or use their own NBFC) to offer a credit line, which is loaded to the same prepaid card.
      • RBI’s 20 June circular said that under its master directions, PPIs can’t be loaded using credit lines issued by NBFCs.
      • The central bank said any such practice, if followed, should be stopped immediately, and non-compliance may attract penal action under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
      • The latest circular says PPI can be loaded using debit card/credit card but not with a credit line from an NBFC.
      • Using credit lines to top up prepaid cards was becoming a popular way among fintechs to operate in the Buy Now, Pay Later segment.
      • The RBI is not pleased with this arrangement, and is clear about the fact that a PPI (a payments instrument) can’t be used as credit instrument.
      • There seems to be concerns about some of these fintechs who have been aggressively extending unsecured lines of credit in various forms, increasing the risk in the system.
      • RBI is clear that they don’t want any credit card or a surrogate product run without RBI approval.
      • The move spells trouble for NBFC credit line-linked wallets and prepaid cards allowing BNPL, such as Slice, Uni, LazyPay, PostPe, MobiKwik, Ola Postpaid, EarlySalary, and some neobanks.
      • SBM Bank was among the preferred PPI issuers to fintechs, while M2P is a company which helps fintechs connect to bank PPIs.
      • A fintech can still do aggressive lending and transfer the loan to your bank account. The next step could be linking a prepaid card with your bank account and now you can take out the money, load your card, and swipe it at a merchant.

    2.   BUREAU OF INDIAN STANDARDS

    • News: An expert panel set up by the government to probe multiple instances of electric two-wheelers catching fire across India is expected to suggest changes to testing and certification criteria of such vehicles, two people privy.
    • About Electric Vehicle Industry and battery standards:
      • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is expected to issue standards for batteries with inputs from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABTCL).
      • Two panels were formed on the EV (electric vehicle) issue; one was looking on the cause of fire incidents, which has shared its recommendations to the companies; and the other, on battery standards and certification, is expected to submit its report soon.
      • Improvements over the existing standards are being considered by the expert panel.
      • the government is preparing comprehensive guidelines for the EV industry, as rising incidents of fires linked to such eco-friendly vehicles have raised concerns among potential buyers.
      • The government should insist on tier I cells. Tier I cells usually come from Japan or Taiwan or Korea. Their impedance rate is in low double digits or low teens as opposed to the commonly used Chinese cells, whose impedance is much higher.
      • Metal or plastic casing on the packs should have a lower quality/safety rating and the BMS (battery management system) should be an intelligent design to analyze heat dissipated at a cell level to shut off that one specific overheating cell if necessary. They should also insist on a robust bus bar as a second layer of safety in the pack design and a fireproof light weight casing such as aluminium casing
    • About Battery impedance:
      • Battery impedance is a combination of internal resistance and reactance where internal resistance + reactance, or (L+ C), equals impedance.
      • A lower internal resistance generally indicates a higher capacity; therefore an increase in internal resistance over time can indicate declining battery capacity, or degradation. Measuring the trend over time will indicate which cells are weakest, or abnormal.
      • According to industry experts, electric two-wheeler makers should target an impedance of around 12 for the batteries.
      • Cheaper Chinese batteries come with an impedance level of 18-40, the experts said, adding that the lower the impedance, the lesser the chances of overheating.
      • Out of the two most commercially viable battery chemistries, Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), NMC gets heated much faster, and the chemistry is largely used in batteries by Indian e-scooter makers.
    • About Bureau of Indian Standards:
      • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the National Standards Body of India under Department of Consumer affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.
      • It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 which came into effect on 12 October 2017.
      • The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS. BIS has 500 plus scientific officers working as Certification Officers, Member secretaries of technical committees and lab OIC’s.
      • The organisation was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under the Resolution of the Department of Industries and Supplies No. 1 Std.(4)/45, dated 3 September 1946.
      • The ISI was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
      • As a National Standards Body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
      • Its headquarters are in New Delhi, with regional offices in Eastern Region at Kolkata, southern Region at Chennai, Western Region at Mumbai, Northern Region at Chandigarh and Central Region at Delhi and 20 branch offices. It also works as WTO-TBT enquiry point for India.

    3.   GST COUNCIL, GST RATES AND GST NETWORK

    • News: The GST Council is set to give extra time for officials to demand tax dues and for businesses to seek refund for past years in view of the disruption caused by the pandemic. The Council may also revise tax rates on certain items such as accessories used by cancer patients, imported defence items and tetra packs.
    • About GST Council:
      • The Government of India (GoI) introduced the GST Council to modify, regulate and reconcile the goods and services tax in India.
      • The Council replace all the existing multiple taxation process and introduce new taxation methods to ease the taxation process for the taxpayers.
      • The Council shall also monitor all the taxation process to provide support to the respective departments and to avoid the fraudulent process.
      • In this article, we look into the GST Council and understand one of the key councils that regulate all aspects of GST in India.
      • The process for creating GST Council started in India when the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-second Amendment) Bill 2016, for the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) was accorded assent by the President on 8th September 2016.
      • As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the president should approve to constitute within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. On 10th September 2016, the notification stated to bring Article 279A into force with effect from 12th September 2016.
    • The GST Council consists of the following members:
      • The Union Finance Minister (as Chairman).
      • The Union Minister of State in-charge of Revenue or Finance.
      • The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister, nominated by each State Government.
    • In the Union Cabinet meeting held on 12th September 2016, it was also decided to appoint:
      • The Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-officio Secretary.
      • The Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the Council.
      • One post of Additional Secretary to the Council in the Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India).
      • Four posts of Commissioner in the GST Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India).
    • The GST Council will make recommendations on:
      • GST shall include taxes, cesses, and surcharges;
      • Goods and services which possibly will be subject to, or exempt from GST;
        The threshold maximum value of turnover for the function of GST;
      • Rates of GST;
      • GST laws, principles of levy, apportionment of IGST and principles associated with place of supply.
      • Special provisions with respect to the eight north-eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand; and other associated matters.
      • Other matters pertaining to the implementation and regulation of GST in India.
    • About GST Rates:
      • In India GST rate for various goods and services is divided into four slabs: they are 5% GST, 12% GST, 18% GST, & 28% GST.
    • Detailed list can for the exam can be read from this link: https://cleartax.in/s/gst-rates
    • About Goods and Service Tax Network:
      • a non-profit, non-government organization which manages the entire IT system of the GST portal. or GSTN) is a non-profit, non-government organization. It will manage the entire IT system of the GST portal, which is the mother database for everything GST. The government will use this portal to track every financial transaction and provide taxpayers with all services – from registration to filing taxes and maintaining all tax details.
    • Structure of GSTN
      • Private players own a 51% share in the GSTN, and the government owns the rest. The authorized capital of the GSTN is Rs 10 crore (US$1.6 million), of which 49% of the shares are divided equally between the Central and State governments, and the remaining is with private banks.
      • The GSTN has also been approved for a non-recurring grant of Rs 315 crores. The contract for developing this vast technological backend was awarded to Infosys in September 2015.
    SHAREHOLDER SHAREHOLDING
    Central Government 24.5%
    State Governments & EC 24.5%
    HDFC 10%
    HDFC Bank 10%
    ICICI Bank 10%
    NSE Strategic Investment Co 10%
    LIC Housing Finance Ltd 11%
    Total 100%
    • Salient Features of the GSTN
      • The GSTN is a complex IT initiative. It will establish a uniform interface for the taxpayer and also create a common and shared IT infrastructure between the Centre and States.
      • Trusted National Information Utility
      • The GSTN is a trusted National Information Utility (NIU) providing a reliable, efficient and robust IT backbone for the smooth functioning of GST in India.
    • Handles complex transactions
      • GST is a destination-based tax. The adjustment of IGST (for inter-state trade) at the government level (Centre & various states) will be extremely complex, considering the sheer volume of transactions all over India. A rapid settlement mechanism amongst the States and the Centre will be possible only when there is a strong IT infrastructure and service backbone which captures, processes and exchanges information. Please read our article to know more about how the Centre and the States will settle IGST.
    • All information will be secure
      • The government will have strategic control over the GSTN, as it is necessary to keep the information of all taxpayers confidential and secure. The Central Government will have control over the composition of the Board, mechanisms of special resolution and shareholders agreement, and agreements between the GSTN and other state governments. Also, the shareholding pattern is such that the government shareholding of 49% is far more than that of any single private institution.
    • Expenses will be shared
      • The user charges will be paid entirely by the Central Government and the State Governments in equal proportion (i.e. 50:50) on behalf of all users. The state share will be then apportioned to individual states in proportion to the number of taxpayers in the state.
    Volume of expenses Type of expenses
    Maximum expenses IT system designed by Infosys
    2nd part Fraud Analytics Tools, security audit and other security functions (will be outsourced based on tender)
    3rd part Operating expenses such as salary, rent, office expenses, internal IT facilities
    • Functions of GSTN
      • GSTN is the backbone of the common portal, which is the interface between the taxpayers and the government. The entire process of GST is online, starting from registration to the filing of returns. It has to support about 3 billion invoices per month and the subsequent return filing for 65 to 70 lakh taxpayers. The GSTN will handle:
      • Invoices
      • Various returns
      • Registrations
      • Payments & Refunds

    4.   SURROGATE MOTHERS TO HAVE 3 YEAR INSURANCE

    • News: Couples who want to become parents through surrogacy have to buy the surrogate mother a general health insurance cover, according to new rules issued by the government.
    • Details:
    • Surrogacy Rules 2022, issued by the health ministry on Tuesday, make such insurance mandatory.
    • In a notification the health ministry also described the requirements and qualifications to run surrogacy clinics along with prescribed consent forms, application forms for registration of a surrogacy clinic and couples availing surrogacy.
    • According to the rules, the intended parents must purchase a general health insurance cover in favour of the surrogate mother for 36 months.
    • It must be bought from an insurance company or an agent recognised by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). And the amount must be sufficient to cover all expenses for any complication arising out of pregnancy and also any other complication after childbirth.
    • The policy must meet the wide definition of insurance laid down by the Surrogacy Regulation Act 2021.“The government has also ensured that the number of attempts of any surrogacy procedure on the surrogate mother shall not be more than three times.
    • A surrogate mother may be allowed for abortion during the process of surrogacy in accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 in case of any complication as advised by the doctors.

    5.   HAPTIC GLOVES

    • News: Last November, Meta’s (formerly Facebook) Reality Labs unveiled a pair of haptic gloves that could help a computer programme accurately understand and reflect a wearer’s hand gestures. The gloves could also simulate complex sensations such as pressure, texture, and vibration.
    • About Haptic Technology:
      • Haptic technology, also known as kinaesthetic communication or 3D touch, refers to any technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.
      • These technologies can be used to create virtual objects in a computer simulation, to control virtual objects, and to enhance remote control of machines and devices (telerobotics).
      • Haptic devices may incorporate tactile sensors that measure forces exerted by the user on the interface.
      • The word haptic, from the Greek: ἁπτικός (haptikos), means “tactile, pertaining to the sense of touch”.
      • Simple haptic devices are common in the form of game controllers, joysticks, and steering wheels.

    6.   TDS RULES FOR VIRTUAL DIGITAL ASSETS

    • News: Central Board of Direct Taxes on Wednesday amended the tax rules, detailing disclosure requirements for tax deducted at source (TDS) for virtual digital assets, including timelines for such transactions.
    • About Non – Fungible Token:
      • A non-fungible token (NFT) is a financial security consisting of digital data stored in a blockchain, a form of distributed ledger.
      • The ownership of an NFT is recorded in the blockchain, and can be transferred by the owner, allowing NFTs to be sold and traded. NFTs can be created by anybody, and require few or no coding skills to create.
      • NFTs typically contain references to digital files such as photos, videos, and audio.
      • Because NFTs are uniquely identifiable, they differ from cryptocurrencies, which are fungible. The market value of an NFT is associated with the digital file it references.
      • Proponents of NFTs claim that NFTs provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership, but the legal rights conveyed by an NFT can be uncertain.
      • The ownership of an NFT as defined by the blockchain has no inherent legal meaning, and does not necessarily grant copyright, intellectual property rights, or other legal rights over its associated digital file.
      • An NFT does not restrict the sharing or copying of its associated digital file, and does not prevent the creation of NFTs that reference identical files.
    • About Cryptocurrency:
      • A cryptocurrency, crypto-currency, or crypto is a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not reliant on any central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it.
      • Individual coin ownership records are stored in a digital ledger, which is a computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.
      • Despite their name, cryptocurrencies are not considered to be currencies in the traditional sense and while varying treatments have been applied to them, including classification as commodities, securities, as well as currencies, cryptocurrencies are generally viewed as a distinct asset class in practice.
      • Cryptocurrency does not exist in physical form (like paper money) and is typically not issued by a central authority. Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control as opposed to a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
      • When a cryptocurrency is minted or created prior to issuance or issued by a single issuer, it is generally considered centralized.
      • When implemented with decentralized control, each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain, that serves as a public financial transaction database.

    7.   SURYAN NUTAN

    • News: Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Giriraj Singh and Som Parkash witness the demonstration of ‘Surya Nutan’, a patented indoor solar cooking system by Indian Oil.
    • About Surya Nutan:
      • Indian Oil Corporation unveiled a stationary, rechargeable and indoor cooking stove that uses the sun’s energy to cook food while always being kept in the kitchen.
      • The stove, which entails a one-time procurement cost and has zero maintenance, is being touted as a substitute for fossil fuels.
      • the stove is different from solar cookers as it does not have to be placed under sunlight.
      • The stove always stays in the kitchen and a cable carries solar energy captured through a PV panel kept outdoor or on the roof.
      • It collects energy from the sun, converts it into heat through a specially designed heating element, stores thermal energy in a scientifically proven thermal battery and reconverts the energy for use in indoor cooking.
      • The energy captured not just covers day time cooking needs of a family of four but also the night meal.
      • The stove has a 10-year life with no maintenance. It does not have a traditional battery that needs replacement. Also, the solar panel has a 25-year life.

    8.   GOLDEN TRIANGLE

    • News: Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh announced on Thursday that the border fencing work on the disputed areas with Myanmar between BP 80 and 81 had been stopped with immediate effect.
    • About Golden Triangle:
      • The Golden Triangle is the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers.
      • The name “Golden Triangle”—coined by the CIA—is commonly used more broadly to refer to an area of approximately 950,000 square kilometres (367,000 sq mi) that overlaps the mountains of the three adjacent countries.
      • Along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent, it has been one of the largest opium-producing areas of the world since the 1950s.
      • Most of the world’s heroin came from the Golden Triangle until the early 21st century when Afghanistan became the world’s largest producer.
      • The majority of the region’s opium is now produced in Myanmar and, to a lesser extent, Laos.
      • Opium production in Myanmar is the world’s second-largest source of opium after Afghanistan, producing some 25% of the world’s opium, forming part of the Golden Triangle.

    9.   ISTANBUL CONVENTION

    • News: Ukraine ratifing the Istanbul Convention is also timely in the context of Russia’s invasion and Kyiv moving closer to Europe.
    • About Istanbul Convention:
      • The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe against violence against women and domestic violence which was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey.
      • The convention aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and to end the impunity of perpetrators.
      • As of March 2019, it has been signed by 45 countries and the European Union.
      • On 12 March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the convention and Turkey is also the first and only country to withdraw from the convention.
      • The Istanbul Convention is the first legally-binding instrument which “creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women” and is focused on preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and prosecuting accused offenders.

    10.         PLEA TO CHANGE CALL SIGN FOR INDIAN AIRCRAFTS

    • News: A petition moved before the Delhi High Court on Thursday sought a direction to the Centre to change the call sign ‘VT’ of Indian aircraft which stands for ‘Victorian Territory’ or ‘Viceroy Territory’, a legacy of British Raj.
    • Details:
      • The prefix ‘VT’ is the nationality code that each aircraft registered in India is required to carry.
      • The code is generally seen just before the rear exit door and above the windows.
      • All the domestic airlines have the prefix ‘VT’, which is followed by unique alphabets that define the aircraft and who it belongs to.
      • Britain set the prefix ‘VT’ for all the colonies in 1929.
      • While countries such as China, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka changed their call signs after independence, the prefix has remained on Indian aircraft even after 93 years.

    11.         AI ADOPTION INDEX

    • News: Nasscom has introduced “AI Adoption Index” in a bid to assess trends of AI adoption in India.
    • About the Index:
      • The index was the first detailed assessment of AI adoption, beginning with four key sectors of banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, healthcare and industrials and automotive.
      • These sectors could cumulatively contribute more than 60% of AI’s potential value-add of $450 to $500 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025.
      • global investments in AI had more than doubled over the last couple of years, from $36 billion in 2020 to a high of $77 billion in 2021.
      • Though AI investments in India were growing at a CAGR of 30.8% and poised to touch $881 million by 2023, it would still represent just 2.5% of the total global AI investments of $340 billion.
      • This would mean a massive opportunity for Indian enterprises to drive investments and adopt AI.