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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 25 February 2017

 

 


Insights  Daily Current Affairs, 25 February 2017


 

Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

India, ADB ink $375 mn loan pact for industrial corridor

 

India and ADB have signed USD 375 million pact for loans and grants to develop 800—km Visakhapatnam—Chennai Industrial Corridor, which is the first phase of a planned 2,500-km East Coast Economic Corridor.

 

Background:

ADB had last September approved USD 631 million in loans and grants for the industrial corridor. The approved loans comprised a USD 500 million multitranche facility to build key infrastructure in the four main centers along the corridor — Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Amaravati, and Yerpedu—Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh.

  • The first tranche of USD 245 million that was signed will finance subprojects to develop high-quality internal infrastructure in 2 of the 4 nodes of the corridor — Visakhapatnam and Yerpedu—Srikalahasti.
  • Loan will also be used for capacity development of institutions engaged in corridor management, provide support to enhance ease of doing business and for supporting industrial and sector policies to stimulate industrial development.

 

About East Coast Economic Corridor:

The East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) is India’s first coastal economic corridor along its eastern coast, stretching about 2,500 kilometers from Kolkata in the north to Kanyakumari in the south.

  • ECEC’s long coastline and strategically located ports allow multiple international gateways to connect India with global value chains (GVCs) in East and Southeast Asia.
  • ECEC supports the Government of India’s (GoI) Make in India campaign, which aims to boost manufacturing by attracting foreign investment and facilitating the establishment of manufacturing hubs.
  • ECEC also aligns with port-led industrialization under the Sagar Mala initiative and the Act East Policy by linking domestic companies with the vibrant global production networks of East and Southeast Asia.
  • Because of the vastness of India’s eastern coastline, ECEC’s developmet is conducted in a phase manner ECEC is being undertaken in 3 phases: phase 1 covers the Visakhapatnam–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC); phase 2 involves the Chennai–Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor (CKIC); and phase 3 supports Orissa and West Bengal Industrial Corridor.

Sources: et.


 

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

 

While Google and Uber fight, Indian govt throws out red carpet for self-driven cars

 

India could soon see driverless cars on its roads as proposed amendments to the motor vehicles law will empower the government to permit the testing of such vehicles, an area in which companies such as Google, Tesla and Uber are heavily engaged.

  • The government will allow testing of these vehicles on a case-by-case basis once the law is in place. The move will allow Indian carmakers and technology firms to join the global race to develop self-driving cars.

 

Background:

The new provision is part of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which had grabbed headlines for its focus on safety and hefty penalties for traffic violations. The Bill, introduced in Parliament in August last year, has since been referred to a parliamentary standing committee.

 

Highlights of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016:

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha in August, 2016.  The Bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.  The Act provides for standards for motor vehicles, grant of driving licenses, and penalties for violation of these provisions.

  • National Transportation Policy: The Bill requires the central government to develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with the states.  The Policy will: (i) establish a planning framework for road transport, (ii) develop a framework for grant of permits and schemes, and (iii) identify and specify priorities for the road transport system.
  • Recall of vehicles: The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.  Vehicles may also be recalled if defects in a vehicle are reported to the central government.  The manufacturer will have to (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.
  • Compulsory insurance: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund.  The Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.  The Fund will be credited with: (i) a cess or tax as approved by the central government, (ii) a grant or loan made by the central government, or (iii) any other source as prescribed the central government.  It will be managed by an authority specified by the central government.
  • Care for road accident victims: The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.  The Bill defines golden hour as the time period of up to an hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.  The Bill also increases the compensation for death in a hit and run case from Rs 25,000 to Rs two lakh or more, as prescribed by the central government.
  • Protection of good samaritans: The Bill defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.  The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) voluntary, and (iii) without the expectation of any reward.  Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim.  The central government may, through rules, provide for procedures related to their questioning or disclosure of personal information.
  • Offences and penalties: The Bill increases the penalties for several offences under the Act.  For example, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.  If a motor vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with construction or maintenance standards of motor vehicles, the penalty may be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment up to one year, or both.
  • The Bill also recognizes offences committed by juveniles. In such cases the guardian of the juvenile or owner of the motor vehicle will be liable unless they prove that: (i) the offence was committed without their knowledge, or (ii) they exercised all due diligence to prevent commission of the offence.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

PoEM won’t apply to cos with turnover less than Rs 50 cr per annum, clarifies govt

 

In a relief to smaller companies and firms, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has clarified that place of effective management (PoEM) regulations won’t apply to companies and firms that have a turnover or gross receipts of less than Rs 50 crore per annum.

  • While this leeway was already present in the original regulations it was not explicitly mentioned in the PoEM circular issued recently by the government.

 

What is PoEM?

PoEM is a tax framework recently amended by the government to determine the tax liability of any foreign company that for all purposes is managed from India but do not pay tax domestically.

The PoEM is mainly used to determine whether a company, subsidiary or a firm really has a base in India and if all the decisions regarding the running of the company are taken from India. If PoEM test proves that a subsidiary of a multinational or any other company or firm is managed from India, domestic taxation laws would be applied to such an organisation.

 

Background:

The government has introduced PoEM as many Indian multinationals hold foreign companies through intermediary companies registered in tax-friendly countries like Mauritius and Singapore. These companies are only used for collecting dividend or interest. The government has taken a view that since such shell companies are only brought in as part of tax planning, they should pay tax in India.

The regulations are mainly aimed at companies which for all purposes have a base in India but as part of tax planning have holding companies registered outside India.

Sources: et.


 

Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

India, Bangladesh sign MoU for development of Sylhet

 

India has signed MoU with Bangladesh for the sustainable development of Sylhet, a north-eastern Bangladeshi city.

 

Key facts:

  • Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), three development projects would be taken up in Sylhet.
  • Under the project in Sylhet, the Indian government will provide financial aid for the construction of a five-storey Kinder Garten and High School Building, a six-storey cleaner colony building; and for some development work in Dhupa Dighirpar area at a total cost of around Taka 240 million.

 

Background:

Sylhet is an ancient city and a historically vibrant city. It had been a part of the former Assam province of India. It has been a focal point for 1971 Liberation War.

Sources: et.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

 

Arctic vault receives new seed deposits

 

Nearly 10 years after a “doomsday” seed vault opened on an Arctic island, some 50,000 new samples from seed collections around the world, including India, have been deposited in the world’s largest repository built to safeguard against wars or natural disasters wiping out global food crops.

  • The latest specimens sent to the bank included more than 15,000 reconstituted samples from an international research centre that focuses on improving agriculture in dry zones. The specimens consisted of seed samples for some of the world’s most vital food sources like potato, sorghum, rice, barley, chickpea, lentil and wheat.
  • The newly deposited 50,000 samples were from seed collections in Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, the US, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Britain.   

 

About the seed vault:

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a gene bank built underground on the isolated Norwegian island in a permafrost zone some 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world’s other seed banks, in case their deposits are lost.

  • It is located on the Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
  • Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide.
  • The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).
  • The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault’s construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs.
  • Depositors will retain ownership rights over the seeds sent to the facility. The boxes with seeds will be sealed by the depositors and will not be distributed to or given access to by anyone other than the depositors.
  • Norwegian law, promulgated prior to the establishment of the Seed Vault and intended therefore to apply more generally to research and use of genetically modified organisms in Norway, effectively prohibits importation of genetically modified seeds and their storage in Svalbard.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

Plan to allow larger firms to shut shop sans govt. nod

 

The Labour Ministry has proposed that factories with up to 500 workers be allowed to lay off workers or shut shop without seeking government permission, in a bid to give firms flexibility in hiring and firing employees.

  • The Ministry is set to discuss the proposed Labour Code on Industrial Relations at the next meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM).

 

Present scenario:

At present, factories with up to 100 workers are allowed to go in for retrenchment, lay-off or closure without seeking government permission, according to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

 

Need for review:

There has been demand from the industry to increase the threshold limit for factories to seek permission for retrenchment from 100 workers to 500 workers.

 

Background:

In May 2015, the Labour Ministry had proposed integrating three labour laws — the Trade Unions Act, the Industrial Disputes Act and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act — into a single code for industrial relations. It had then also proposed allowing factories with up to 300 workers to retrench workers or close down without seeking official sanction.

However, the Centre had put the proposals on the back-burner after series of protests from the central trade unions on the proposed labour law reforms.

 

Implications of this move:

Most of the establishments in India needn’t take government permission to retrench workers or close their set up. So, the amendments will only impact a very small proportion of the total establishments in the country.

 

Sources: the hindu.