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Insights Daily Current Events, 04 March 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 04 March 2016



Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in space.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)

Astronomers have, for the first time detected, repeated short bursts of mysterious and powerful radio waves.

Where did they come from?

Experts predict that these bursts, also known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), originated from an extremely powerful object, probably an enigmatic source that is likely located beyond the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.

Where they were detected?

These bursts were detected by Arecibo radio telescope, which is located in Puerto Rico. This is the world’s largest radio telescope. Puerto Rico is a dependent territory of The United States Of America.

What are FRBs?

They are high energy astrophysical phenomenon manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds.

  • Most theories suggest that such burst generally occur from cataclysmic incidents that destroy their source- a star exploding in a supernova or a neutron star collapsing collapsing into a black hole.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Commerce ministry to take up differential MAT on SEZs

The Commerce Ministry is all set to raise its concern with the Finance Ministry over the differential tax rate proposed in the budget for the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) to come up in a Special Economic Zone in Gujarat, and the rest of the SEZs.

  • IFSC comes under the ambit of the SEZ Act as the legislation defines it and states that the Centre may approve the setting up of an IFSC in an SEZ and prescribe requirements.
  • The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar (Gujarat) is the only IFSC in India.


As part of the budget on February 29, a reduced Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) rate of 9% was proposed for the IFSC in an SEZ in Gujarat, while retaining 18.5% MAT on all other SEZ developers and units.

  • Also, the FY’17 Budget has proposed that companies located in IFSC shall not be liable to Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT).

What are demands of Commerce Ministry?

  • The commerce ministry has been pitching for removal or reduction of MAT on all SEZ developers and units. It has demanded that MAT on SEZs should be either withdrawn or reduced to its original rate of 7.5%.
  • It has also sought an SEZ-specific package to make sure that these tax-free enclaves are the focal point of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • Another issue is the FY’17 Budget proposal of profit-linked deductions to new units in SEZs commencing activity on or before March 31, 2020. The commerce ministry has demanded that profit-linked deductions should be available for new units in SEZs starting operations by March-end, 2023.

The commerce ministry is keen to ensure greater manufacturing sector-exports from SEZs.

State of SEZs in India:

The export-oriented SEZ sector, which has been playing an important role in boosting India’s overall exports, has been witnessing a slowdown in terms of investment, exports and employment generation for the past few years.

  • Imposition of 18.5% MAT on SEZ developers and units as well as Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) on developers has further aggravated the problem. The imposition of MAT and DDT on SEZs has resulted in lesser number of SEZ notifications, slower operationalisation of SEZs and more applications for de-notification of approved SEZs.
  • These taxes have also dented the investor-friendly image of SEZs and created uncertainty in the minds of foreign and domestic investors.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Central bank issues draft norms for NBFC-AA

The Reserve Bank of India has issued draft norms for the creation of a new entity in the non-banking financial sector, namely NBFC – Account Aggregator (AA) and proposed that the minimum capital for start such an activity will be Rs. two crore.

  • NBFC –AA will act as an account aggregator to enable the common man to see all his accounts across financial institutions in a common format.


The idea of such an NBFC had emanated from the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

  • At present, a person holding financial assets such as, savings bank deposits, fixed deposits, mutual funds, insurance policies, do not get a consolidated view of their financial asset holdings, especially when the entities fall under the purview of different financial sector regulators.
  • Account Aggregators would fill this gap by collecting and providing the information of customers’ financial assets in a consolidated, organised and retrievable manner to the customer or any other person as per the instructions of the customer. The investors will be able to avail the service of an Account Aggregator purely at their option.


What are they?

Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank, i.e. one that does not hold a banking license.

What they can’t do?

  • These institutions typically are restricted from taking deposits from the public depending on the jurisdiction. Nonetheless, operations of these institutions are often still covered under a country’s banking regulations.
  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
  • Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.

Who supervises them?

The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested under Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Aadhaar Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

A Bill to provide Aadhaar statutory backing for use for transferring government subsidies and benefits has been introduced in Lok Sabha.

  • The Bill incorporates clauses to keep personal information discreet and it not being a proof of citizenship.
  • The Bill was introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. It is named ‘The Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016’.
  • It has been introduced as a ‘Money Bill’.

Important provisions in the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to make the use of Aadhaar mandatory for availing of government subsidies but at the same time tries to address concerns regarding privacy and protection of personal information.
  • The bill has sought to address many provisions related to privacy and security of the biometric information provided by citizens. The bill provides that the information will be an electronic record and will be classified as “sensitive personal data or information” as per the provisions of the Information Technology Act.
  • The bill prohibits the sharing of the core biometric information in any form. However, information about the identity of an individual, other than core biometric information, can be shared subject to certain conditions.
  • The bill also mandates the enrolling agency to inform the individual undergoing enrolment on how the data will be used and with whom it will be shared and the fact that the individual can also access such information.
  • The bill also provides provisions wherein institutions, after paying a fee, can authenticate the identity of a person. But for this, the institution should have the consent of the Aadhaar number holder.
  • It directs UIDAI to have sufficient security of identity information and authentication record of individuals. It also directs UIDAI to ensure that agencies, consultants and its employees are bound by confidentiality and do not leak any information.
  • To ensure that the number of people excluded from Aadhaar’s fold is minimum, the bill also talks about special measures that will be undertaken by the Authority to issue numbers to women, nomadic tribes, street dwellers, senior citizens, persons with disability and unskilled and unorganized workers. It also says the Aadhaar number by itself will not be considered proof of citizenship or domicile.
  • It also provides for penalties for impersonation, unauthorized access and tampering of data in the Central Identities data repository that stores all such information. However, to be sure, the government has retained the right to use and access such information sought “in the interest of national security.”

Significance of this Bill:

  • The bill will provide for good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals.
  • The proposed legislation will also address the uncertainty surrounding the project after the Supreme Court restricted the use of the Aadhaar number until a constitution bench delivers its verdict on a number of cases challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar in government schemes and rules on the issue of privacy violation.

Money Bill- Key facts:

  • Money bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Rajya Sabha cannot make amendments to a money bill passed by the Lok Sabha and can only make recommendations.
  • It also has to return money bills to the Lok Sabha within 14 days from the date of their receipt, thus ensuring a time-bound process.
  • Such bills also cannot be referred to a joint committee of Parliament.
  • If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of Speaker thereon is final. The Speaker is under no obligation to consult any one in coming to a decision or in giving his certificate that a Bill is a Money Bill.
  • The President may either give or withhold his assent to a Money Bill. Under the Constitution, a Money Bill cannot be returned to the House by the President for reconsideration.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

U.N. Security Council approves tough sanctions on North Korea

The United Nations Security Council has imposed a broad array of sanctions against North Korea because of that nation’s recent nuclear test and missile launch — both of which defied current international sanctions.

  • The resolution aims to cripple parts of the North Korean economy that fuel its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Sanctions imposed:

  • Require all North Korean planes and ships carrying cargo to be inspected. Previously, nations only inspected planes and ships when they had “reasonable grounds,” which enabled North Korea to hide tools and parts for missiles and the nuclear program in inconspicuous packages.
  • Ban Pyongyang (Capital of North Korea) from exporting most of the country’s natural resources. Coal alone accounted for about $1 billion in annual income.
  • Ask U.N. member states to ban North Korea from opening banks, and to close any banks believed to be associated with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
  • Direct member states to expel North Korean diplomats and foreign nationals engaged in illicit activities.
  • Prohibit nations from providing training to North Korean nationals in fields that could advance the nation’s missile and nuclear programs, such as aerospace engineering and advanced computer simulation.
  • Ban member states from allowing North Korea to charter foreign vessels or aircraft, and ban all nations from operating any vessels that use North Korean flags.
  • Prohibit the supply of aviation fuel — including rocket fuel — and the sale of small arms to North Korea.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: health.

Delhi government launches HPV vaccine

In a significant attempt towards prevention of cervical cancer caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the Delhi government has launched the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination as a public health programme.

  • Delhi first state to launch HPV vaccine for cervical cancer as public health programme.


  • As part of the programme girls of class VI in government schools will be targeted in the first phase. This will be completed in the current academic year over two phases.
  • Through this initiative the state aims to prevent 80% of the cervical cancers.


  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection which causes cervical cancer.
  • According to the HPV India Report 2015 (HPV R-2015), 1,22,844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67,477 die from the disease in India every year.
  • Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women aged 15-44 yearss.

Sources: bs.


Facts for Prelims from ‘The Hindu’:

Raisina Dialogue (Update)

The theme of this year’s ‘Raisina Dialogue’ international conference was ‘Asian Connectivity’. This was the first conference. It was held in India.


Exercise FORCE 18

Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) – Exercise FORCE 18, involving ASEAN Plus countries recently commenced in Pune. This is the largest Ground Forces Exercise ever conducted on Indian soil and would be conducted with themes based on ‘Humanitarian Mine Action’ and ‘Peacekeeping Operations’.



ASEAN Plus includes ASEAN’s 10 member states and eight dialogue partner countries which are China, Japan, South Korea, the US, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Plastic ban

Taking a strong stand on the adverse effect of plastic on health and environment, the Karnataka State government has banned the use of non-essential plastics. The State Cabinet has approved a final draft notification on the ban in this regard and it will come into effect from the day of publication of a gazette notification slated to be issued next week.

  • The decision was taken after studying objections from various stakeholders. This would lead to replacement of all non-essential plastics with eco-friendly material across Karnataka.
  • The draft bans the manufacture, storage, sale, distribution and use of plastic carry bags, irrespective of its thickness.
  • Recently, Himachal Pradesh has banned the sale of fast food in non-biodegradable packets from April 1, 2013.