07-11-2017 Current Affairs

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answered Nov 7 by prashant1984 (23,320 points)

Sebi, income tax dept to probe Indians named in Paradise Papers

Context-While the income tax department will investigate Indians in Paradise Papers for tax evasion, Sebi will be scrutinising disclosures.

Paradise paper leak-1.The income-tax department and the capital markets regulator will be scrutinizing the so-called Paradise Papers—documents obtained by a global network of investigative journalists—to see if any Indian individual or companies were guilty of wrongdoing.

2.While the income-tax authorities will investigate companies allegedly evading taxes by using complex offshore structures, the market regulator will be scrutinizing disclosures.

CBDT action plan-1.Accordingly, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has its investigation wing to reopen the income-tax returns filed by the companies and individuals named in the leaks to see if any of their past incomes have gone un-taxed.

2.All directors general of investigations across the country will be briefed about the exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

3.These reports have not named all the companies and directors in those companies. Wherever names are available,their income-tax returns will be immediately checked to see if there is any under-reporting of income.

4.Once more details and names come out, the tax department will take appropriate action.

5.The Indian Express reported that as an ICIJ partner, it probed all the documents that had an India connection, adding that 714 Indian companies and individuals are listed in the documents.

6.The CBDT has also reconstituted the multi-agency group headed by its chairman to monitor investigations into the papers.

Previously this group—made up of officials from the tax department, the Enforcement Directorate, the Reserve Bank of India and the Financial Intelligence Unit—had monitored investigations into the so-called Panama papers, another set of financial documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm in 2015, dealing with offshore assets allegedly held by businesses.

Steps taken by SEBI-1.The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has initiated an examination of the listed companies mentioned in the Paradise Papers for disclosure lapses and fund diversion.

2.Sebi will ask stock exchanges to ask for information from the listed companies on their offshore entities and this will be matched with their statutory disclosures.

3. These disclosures are made by companies in their annual reports and exchange filings.

Steps taken by Government-1.Many of the cases listed in the Paradise Papers may not actually be tax frauds as setting up holding companies in countries with which India has double tax avoidance agreements (DTAAs) to route investments into India has been a common tax planning practice.

2.This practice has been blocked, with India renegotiating its tax treaty with countries such as Mauritius, a major source of foreign direct investment into India.

3.India is also renegotiating its bilateral investment protection agreements with other nations to check abusive practices by businesses.

4.India joined a multilateral agreement to combat aggressive tax avoidance by multinationals, which at one stroke modified India’s DTAAs with about 93 nations, including Cyprus, Mauritius and Singapore.

5.India actively participated in evolving the treaty text with members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Action taken by Government in Panama paper leak-1.In the investigations into the Panama Papers, the income-tax department found that about 279 cases were “non-actionable”. In the 46 cases in which action has been taken, five criminal cases were filed and investigations are ongoing in other cases.

2.Indian companies and individuals are allowed to invest abroad but regulations require these outbound capital flows to be reported in tax returns.

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answered Nov 7 by prashant1984 (23,320 points)

Govt announces steps to check under reporting of TB cases

Context- The Union health ministry, which is aiming to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, has asked private hospitals to notify it all cases of the disease reported in their facilities.

Objective- The aim is to check under-reporting of tuberculosis, which has been flagged as a major area of concern by UN health agency WHO.

Steps taken by Government-1. The ministry will also set up two 24X7 call centres — in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh — so that patients can avail all information related to the disease by calling up these toll free numbers.

2.The call centres will provide patients with information related to the disease and also answer their queries. It will also help keep a tab on TB patients in the country.

3. Government official has held several meetings with the private hospitals and have instructed them to notify all cases of TB in their facilities.

4. The ministry has also roped in the Indian Medical Association for further sensitisation of the health institutions.

Level of TB in India-1. the TB incidence was estimated to be 217 per lakh population in 2015 which reduced to 211 per lakh population in 2016.

2 Despite the reduction, India topped the list of seven countries accounting for 64 per cent of the 10.4 million new tuberculosis (TB) cases worldwide in 2016, according to a new global report which was released by the WHO yesterday.

3. India along with China and Russia accounted for almost of half of the 490,000, multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases registered in 2016.

4. According to the report, under-reporting and under-diagnosis of the TB cases continues to be a challenge, especially in countries with large unregulated private sectors and weak health systems.

5.Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases globally, only 6.3 million were detected and officially notified in 2016, leaving a gap of 4.1 million. India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounted for almost half of this global gap.

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answered Nov 7 by prashant1984 (23,320 points)

DRDO Conducts Successful Flight Trial of 'NIRBHAY' Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile 

-Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved another feet with the successful test flight of ‘NIRBHAY’ - India’s first indigenously designed and developed Long Range Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile which can be deployed from multiple platforms.

- It was successfully test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odisha.

-The missile has the capability to loiter and cruise at 0.7 Mach, at altitudes as low as 100 m.

-The flight test achieved all the mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash, boosting the confidence of all scientists associated with the trial. 

-The missile took-off in the programmed manner and all critical operations viz. launch phase, booster deployment, engine start, wing deployment and other operational parameters demonstrated through autonomous way point navigation.

-The guidance, control and navigation system of the missile is configured around the indigenously designed Ring Laser Gyroscope (RLG) and MEMS based Inertial Navigation System (INS) along with GPS system.

-The missile majestically cruised for a total time duration of 50 minutes, achieving the range of 647 km. The missile was tracked with the help of ground based radars and other parameters were monitored by indigenous telemetry stations developed by DRDO. 

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answered Nov 7 by prashant1984 (23,320 points)

Climate meet begins: India pushes developed countries to deliver (GS 3 Mains)

(Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

Introduction- FIJI SET the stage for the fresh edition of the climate change conference  urging the world to commit itself to a 1.5 degree celsius limit on global warming, rather than a two-degree target, as it moves towards finalising the rule-book for the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

-The two-week conference, an annual year-end affair, is being held under the shadow of the decision of the USA to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a move that severely undermines the goals and objectives of that agreement.

- The US is participating in the conference, since its withdrawal cannot become effective until 2020, but its delegation remained silent on the opening day.

- India and other “like-minded developing countries” — a group of about 25 nations — made an early intervention on Monday in a fresh bid to force the developed countries to deliver on their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, the precursor to the Paris Agreement, which still has three years to go before expiring in 2020.

- Amendments made to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in Doha in 2013 extended the mandate of developed countries to take targeted cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions till 2020. The earlier mandate was to make emission cuts between 2005 and 2012.

Doha Amendments-1.The Doha amendments are yet to become operational because they haven’t been ratified by enough countries.

2. Ratification of the Doha amendments was not included in the agenda of the current conference, which India and some other countries objected.

3. They argued that the conference must decide on a deadline, possibly sometime next year, for every country to ratify the Doha amendments.

4.The developed countries are trying to avoid their responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is not yet dead.

There is still plenty that can be done within Kyoto Protocol provided there is intention to do so.

5.Developing Countries are continuing for early operationalisation of the Doha amendments so that we can see some action being taken in the pre-2020 period as well.

6. Fiji, the host and president of the conference, agreed to consider the suggestion by India and other countries, and appointed a facilitator to hold consultations and report back by the end of this week.

7. Fiji, which, like many other small island nations, is facing the worst impact of rising sea levels as a result of climate change, insisted that countries should adopt a 1.5 degree target.

8.The Paris Agreement wants the world to prevent the rise in global temperature beyond 2 degree celsius from pre-industrial levels, though it acknowledges that the effort to contain the temperature rise to within 1.5 degree celsius must not be abandoned.

9.Small island countries are the most vocal in supporting the 1.5 degree target, threatened as their existence is by the rising seas.

Paris Agreement-1.Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020 to achieve the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement.

2.It also intended to cap the global average temperature at 1.5 degrees celsius over that of the pre-industrial age.

Way Forward-1.Far greater effort from the developed countries and big emitters are required in reducing their emissions. 

2. By aiming for 1.5 degrees, Countries are setting ourselves a serious challenge. But it provides countries a mission.

It engages our capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work.

3. World was actually moving towards a 3 to 5 degree celsius temperature rise, and urged the countries for more ambitious actions in the next few decades.

4.  A new report by WMO also showed that the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere had crossed 403 parts per million, the highest ever. Scientists believe that concentrations of 450 ppm would lead to catastrophic and irreversible damage to the earth.

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answered Nov 7 by prashant1984 (23,320 points)

Plotting social progress (GS 3 Mains)

- Economy , Inclusive growth & issues arising from it.

Context-The accomplishments of modern India are recognised around the world.

- A country that was a symbol of hunger and poverty at the time of Independence and admonished for its Hindu rate of growth during the initial decades has now transformed itself into one of the the fastest growing major economies.

-These economic achievements are extensive, especially when considering the challenges that arose from following democratic governance after decades of oppressive colonial rule and being a multi-religious secular entity. But the potential for growth remains strong despite some slackening.

Societal reach of this economic growth still remains unquantified

1.There have been efforts to track individual social outcomes such as health, education and safety.

 For instance, the National University of Educational Planning and Administration and the Government of India (Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education and Literacy) compute an Educational Development Index for primary and upper primary levels of education that compare States on different aspects on education universalisation.

2.Similarly, NITI Aayog has rolled out the health, education and water index.

There have also been efforts to look at progress through the lens of a human development index but that does not isolate the impact of economic growth.

A common measure to quantify the social progress of Indian States that can pinpoint the achievements and the challenges is still missing.

Importance of Social Progress Index- Social Progress Index could bridge gap of problem of multiple indicators.

-States are ranked using social and environmental indicators on i)the basis of their capability to provide for basic needs such as shelter, water, and sanitation;

 ii)a foundation for well-being with education, health, and communication facilities;

 iii)analysing the prejudices that prevail in a region prohibiting people from making their personal decisions;

iv)and evaluating whether citizens have personal rights and freedom or whether they are susceptible to child labour, human trafficking, corruption, etc.

-The study (2005-2016) helps analyse whether States, especially using social and environmental indicators, are heading in the right direction. It is also essential to help adjust policies as well as public and private investments.

i)The overall social progress score for the country now stands at 57.03 (on a 0-100 scale), approximately eight points higher than in 2005.

 The country performs better in the provision of basic human needs rather than opportunities for its citizens. Therefore, creation of a society with equal opportunities for all still remains an elusive dream.

The scores for opportunity have increased over the years followed by smaller, but important improvements in the areas of basic human needs and foundations of well-being.

ii)All the States have climbed the social progress ladder, with the group of States that had the worst performance in 2005 — Tripura, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Bihar — now showing improvement.

-States with a relatively low level of social progress can improve rapidly.However,average improvement is the lowest among the group of States that were categorised as “Very High Social Progress” in 2005.

iii)Greatest improvements have been in areas where social progress most often accompanies economic prosperity. On the other hand, areas where performance has declined or stagnated is where the correlation with economic development is weak.

-“Access to Information & Communication and Inclusion” depicts a strong relationship with per capita GDP and are the ones that have improved the most over the years. And “Health and Wellness & Environmental Quality”, that are least correlated with economic development, have eroded.

-This suggests that States should focus on policies that target social issues. The focus on economic parameters will result in unbalanced social development.

Conclusion- The overall findings show that while the economy is on the right track, there is an urgent need to identify and focus on social parameters.

The reliance on the idea that economic development will automatically transform social conditions will hamper further improvements in social progress. Social progress needs to be stimulated by focussing on policies directly targeting social issues.

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