Insights Daily Current Events, 08 July 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Utensil makers oppose quality norms on steel
Manufacturers and exporters of stainless steel utensils and cutlery in India are opposing the recent curbs imposed on the import of different types of so-called ‘substandard’ stainless steel.
According to them, the move will result in a shortage of raw material and push up costs for the sector. This, they warned, could in turn lead to closure of several firms in the sector due to non-viability of operations, thereby causing large-scale unemployment.
The government recently brought out the quality-control order. The order prohibits manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of stainless steel products that do not conform to the standards specified in that order and which do not bear the ‘Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)’ mark (given after obtaining a licence from the BIS).
- The move is also aimed to prevent ‘poor quality’ steel imports from countries, including China. It is applicable on various grades of stainless steel plate, sheets and strips used for utensils as well as for low nickel austenitic stainless steel sheet and strips used in kitchen appliances and utensils.
- The quality control order was imposed over and above the minimum import price (MIP) ranging from $341 to $752 per tonne on 173 steel products to protect local steel manufacturers from a surge in cheap imports of steel.
- The MIP, which was imposed on February 5 is in place at least until August 4. In March, the government had also extended the safeguard duty (of 20% that will gradually drop to 10%) on steel imports till March 2018.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Putin signs controversial ‘Big Brother’ law
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a package of controversial anti-terror amendments dubbed “Big Brother” measures by critics that may cost Internet companies billions.
Controversial provisions in the law:
- Tougher sentences for extremism and heightened electronic surveillance of Russian citizens.
- Telecommunications operators are required to store recordings of their customers’ phone calls and text messages for six months.
- Messaging services such as Facebook and Telegram have to provide decryption keys to Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB.
- Russians have to inform authorities about potentially grave crimes or their planning, stiffen penalties for re-posting information deemed extremist on the Internet. R
- Postal employees are required to inspect packages.
- The number of crimes with which children between the ages of 14 and 17 can be charged is also increased.
- Public calls for terrorism or its public justification in the Internet will entail a penalty of up to 1 million rubles ($15,620) or liberty deprivation for a term of 5-7 years.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Sri Lanka to seal trade pact with India by mid-2017
India and Sri Lanka are planning to expedite negotiations on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA). In this regard, a delegation from India will shortly visit Colombo.
India, accounting for 23% ($ 4,268 million in 2015) of Sri Lanka’s total imports, has been negotiating with the island nation on the ETCA, an extension over the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement better known as ETCA (formerly CEPA) is a trade agreement. The ETCA agreement seeks to boost cooperation in technical areas, scientific expertise and research amongst institutions, boost standards of goods and services able to compete on the global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
DRI unearths Rs. 2,240 cr. banking-hawala scam
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Mumbai has unearthed a ‘banking-hawala’ scam, in which reputed public sector banks illegally remitted Rs. 2,240 crore overseas based on forged documentation and declarations of traded goods by exporters and importers.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence was constituted on 4th December 1957, for dealing exclusively with the work relating to the collection and study of information on smuggling activities and the deployment of all anti-smuggling resources at the all India level, besides arranging training for the intelligence and Investigation officers of the Custom Houses and Central Excise Collectorates deployed on similar work.
- DRI is the major intelligence agency which eradicates smuggling of drugs, gold, diamonds, electronics, foreign currency, counterfeit Indian currency, etc.
- The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence functions under the Central Board of Excise and Customs in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
- The Directorate is run by officers from Central Excise and Customs. Though its early days were committed to combating smuggling in of gold, it has now tuned itself to the changing nature of crimes in the field of narcotics and economic crimes.
The essential features of the organization are:
- It is designed to collect and collate information and to strike swiftly;
- It is officer-intensive and the ministerial staff has been kept at a minimum;
- Although small, it is a high-powered organization so that it can issue instructions to Collectors and can command the confidence and respect of the other State and Central organizations with which it has necessarily to deal in order to become effective;
- It consists of selected officers, that is, those who by temperament and experience, are equipped to do this specialized kind of work;
- It will have no routine job of its own in the sense that it is required to collect a certain amount of revenue. It will have complete liberty to act on ‘hunches’ and only the ends will justify the means it adopts.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
‘Clean Ganga’ project launched at 100 places
The Central government has launched 231 projects under the ‘Namami Gange’ project. This would take it closer to achieving its Clean Ganga objective.
Namami Gange Programme:
The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015. It integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga River in a comprehensive manner.
Focus of the programme:
Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of a) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level, b) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and c) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
- The program emphasizes on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of Central and State governments.
- The program has a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore for the next 5 years.
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Germany has enacted a landmark sexual assault law. The German Parliament has passed “no means no” rape law. The law broadens the definition of sex crimes and makes it easier to deport migrants and refugees who commit them. It explicitly covers cases in which a victim withheld consent but did not physically fight back. It also lowers the bar for deporting sex offenders, classifies groping as a sex crime and targets assaults committed by large groups. It specifically upgrades groping to a sex crime with sentences of up to two years’ jail or a fine.
- The second anti-drug working group meeting of heads of anti-narcotics agencies of BRICS countries has begun in New Delhi. The meeting discusses issues related to narco-terrorism and money laundering. The meeting has been organised by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India.