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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th October 2019
Published on Oct. 14, 2019, 3:49 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th October 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Mizoram is top State with HIV prevalence rate

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II - Health

In News

  • Mizoram, one of the least populated States in India, reports nine positive cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) a day.
  • The virus “strike rate” has made Mizoram top the list of States with an HIV prevalence rate of 2.04% followed by two other north-eastern States — next-door neighbour Manipur with 1.43% and Nagaland with 1.15%.
  • 67.21% of the positive cases from 2006 to March 2019 have been transmitted sexually, 1.03% of the transmission route being homosexual.
  • The next major cause, accounting for 28.12% cases, is infected needles shared by intravenous drug users.
  • People aged between 25 and 34 are most vulnerable, followed by 35-49 years and 15-24 years. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in these three age groups are 42.38%, 26.46% and 23.03% respectively.

Do You Know?

  • The total number of people living with HIV was estimated at 21.40 lakh in 2017.
  • India witnessed over 87,000 new cases in 2017 and saw a decline of 85% compared to 1995.
  • HIV is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal fluids and breast milk
  • Anti-Retroviral Therapy - combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing is used as a treatment for HIV infected persons

Education of mothers directly linked to better nutrition for children

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II - Health

In News

  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey studied 1.2 lakh children between 2016 and 2018 and measured food consumption, anthropometric data, micronutrient levels, anaemia, iron deficiency and markers of non-communicable diseases.
  • These were charted against population characteristics such as religion, caste, place of residence and the mothers’ levels of schooling.
  • Data from the study show that with higher levels of schooling in a mother, children received better diets. 
  • While 31.8% of the children whose mothers finished Class XII received diverse meals, only 11.4% whose mothers with no schooling received adequately diverse meals
  • Only 49.8% of the children in 2-4 years age group whose mothers did not go to school consumed dairy products, while 80.5% of the children of mothers who completed their schooling did so.
  • Levels of stunting, wasting and low weight were higher in children whose mothers received no schooling as opposed to those who studied till Class XII. Stunting among children aged up to four was nearly three times for the former category (19.3% versus 5.9%)
  • But on the flip side, a higher level of education among mothers meant that their children received meals less frequently, perhaps because the chances of the women being employed and travelling long distances to work 
  • Children in the age group of 10-19 showed a higher prevalence of pre-diabetes if their mother had finished schooling (15.1% versus 9.6%). 
  • The prevalence of high cholesterol levels was at 6.2% in these children (age group of 10-19) as opposed to 4.8% among those whose mothers never attended school.

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/10/14/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_11/a176072c_3259145_101_mr.jpg


Many denied PDS rice due to non-seeding of Aadhaar

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II - Governance

In News

  • The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme seems to be not working in favour of many in Odisha, according to a survey that found that hundreds of people have not been provided rice through the PDS for two months due to non-seeding of Aadhaar.
  • The study also found that exclusion due to Aadhaar linking is more prevalent in tribal areas.
  • The survey was conducted during the first week of October by the Odisha chapter of the National Right to Food Campaign, an informal network of organisations and individuals working on right to food issues

One Nation, One Ration card

  • The national portability of Ration cards will ensure all beneficiaries especially the migrants in getting access to PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.
  • This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
  • There will also be creation of a Central Repository of all Ration Cards to help national level de-duplication.
  • This initiative shall be helpful for the large migratory population of the country, who migrate from one part of the country to another in search of job or employment, marriage, or any other reason, and find difficulty in accessing subsidised foodgrains in the present system.
  • The challenges for this scheme involves that all PDS shops should install ePoS machines and all ration cards have to be seeded with Aadhaar numbers.

‘Foreign’ plastic invades Great Nicobar Island

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Environment Conservation

In News

  • About 10 countries including India contributed to the plastic litter in the Great Nicobar island. They were Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, China and Japan.
  • Major portion of the litter (40.5%) was of Malaysian origin. It was followed by Indonesia (23.9%) and Thailand (16.3%).The litter of Indian origin only amounted to 2.2%
  • The overwhelming contribution from Indonesia and Thailand was likely due to its proximity to the island; the plastic is likely to have made its way to the island because of water currents via the Malacca Strait, which is a major shipping route.
  • The huge quantities of marine debris observed on this island might be due to improper handling of the solid waste from fishing/mariculture activity and ship traffic.
  • Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the severest threats to ocean ecosystems and its concentration has reached 5,80,000 pieces per square kilometre.
  • Plastic represents 83% of the marine litter found.The remaining 17% is mainly textiles, paper, metal and wood.

Do You Know?

  • The Great Nicobar Island of Andaman has an area of about 1044 sq. km.
  • According to the 2011 census, has a population of about 8,069.
  • The island is home to one of the most primitive tribes of India — the Shompens.
  • The island includes the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (GNBR) comprising of the Galathea National Park and the Campbell Bay National Park.
  • The island harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystems from tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges and coastal plains.
  • The island is also home to giant robber crabs, crab-eating macaques, the rare megapode as well as leatherback turtles.

Project Beehive

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Security

In News

  • The Army’s Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) has launched a major initiative under Project Beehive for automation of the entire Corps
  • The objective is to enable real-time monitoring and response of its 2,000 workshops across the country.
  • The Army is collaborating with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on this and EME officers are part of the product development
  • Each of them will be able to track their equipment and readiness in realtime. On a click, all critical readiness states will be displayed. The equipment, how much mileage was done, when is the next service due and so on. It allows easy forecast of requirements
  • The Army had earlier automated its workshops under WASP (Workshop Honey bees) which is now being upgraded to be on same level with Beehive.

PLOGGING

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Environment Conservation

In News

  • ‘Plogging’ is a combination word formed from ‘jogging’ and ‘plocka upp’, which is Swedish for ‘pick up’.
  • It refers to an emerging international trend in which people picks up trash while jogging or brisk walking as a way of cleaning up litter while also taking care of fitness.
  • The trend was started in Sweden by Erik Ahlström in 2016. Thanks to social media and word of mouth, it has gradually turned into an international movement involving both fitness and environmental enthusiasts.
  • In India, the government organised the Fit India Plog Run on October 2, as part of the Fit India Movement launched by the Prime Minister on August 29.
  • In his Mann Ki Baat address on September 29, PM Modi urged people to start plogging for a litter-free India.
  • According to Ahlström, plogging for half an hour will burn at least 288 calories on an average as compared to 235 calories from regular jogging.

BAUL MUSIC

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Art & Culture

In News

  • A three day long festival of Baul songs named Indo-Bangla Baul Music Festival concluded in Dhaka which was organised to observe the 129th death anniversary of Baul saint Fakir Lalon Shah.
  • Baul Music is a form of folk music, unique to Bangladesh and West Bengal of India.
  • The word Baul means “afflicted with the wind disease” and the Baul singers are traditionally wandering minstrels singing their particular form of folk music.
  • The lyrics and music are soul searching, quite comparable to the genre of Sufi music.
  • In 2005, the Baul tradition of Bangladesh was included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. 

Statistical report for general election 2019

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II - Governance

In News

  • The Election Commission of India has officially released the statistical report for general election 2019.
  • Some of the key findings of the report are:
  • The overall polling percentage in the last parliamentary election, including postal ballots, was 67.4%, which is the highest ever turnout in a Lok Sabha poll.
  • Nearly 86% of the 8,026 candidates in the recent Lok Sabha poll forfeited their deposits.
  • The national turnout among women electors was marginally higher at 67.18% as compared to male electors (67%). The turnout of women voters surpassed the male turnout figures in 17 states/Union Territories, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
  • As per the state-wise turnout figures, Lakshadweep recorded the highest turnout at 85.21% across all states and UTs, followed by Nagaland (83%). Jammu and Kashmir recorded the lowest turnout at 44.97%.
  • Dhubri in Assam emerged as the constituency with the highest turnout of 90.66% while Anantnag in J&K recorded the lowest turnout of 8.98%
  • Postal ballots received in the 2019 parliamentary poll totalled around 28 lakh, though only around 22.8 lakh were found to be valid with over 5 lakh rejected. 
  • On the final vote share of national parties, BJP polled 37.76% of valid votes, Congress 19.7%, Trinamool 4.11%, BSP 3.67%, CPM 1.77%, NCP 1.4% and CPI 0.59%.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Tax evasion and base erosion and profit shifting

Context:

  • Indian government desperate to raise more tax revenues.
  •  It missed its tax targets  last fiscal year, (poor goods and services tax (GST) collections). 
  • Its declared budgetary target for the current year requires tax receipts to increase by around 25%, when the first quarter increase was only 6%.

MNCs Tax Evasion:

  • MNCs manage to avoid taxation in most countries, by shifting their declared costs and revenues through transfer pricing across subsidiaries, practices described as “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS). 
  • Digital companies, some of the largest of which make billions of dollars in profits across the globe, but pay barely any taxes anywhere. 
  • The International Monetary Fund has estimated that countries lose $500 billion a year because of this.

Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS):

  • Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to corporate tax planning strategies used by multinationals to "shift" profits from higher–tax jurisdictions to lower–tax jurisdictions, thus "eroding" the "tax–base" of the higher–tax jurisdictions
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) define BEPS strategies as also "exploiting gaps and mismatches in tax rules
  • Initiatives to curb BEPS by the OECD and the Trump administration have failed.

Way forward:

Idea Proposed by the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, or ICRICT

  • Since an MNC actually functions as one entity, it should be treated that way for tax purposes. So the total global profits of a multinational should be calculated, and then apportioned across countries according to some formula based on sales, employment and users (for digital companies).Ex: US
  • A minimum corporate tax should be internationally agreed upon for this to prevent companies shifting to low tax jurisdictions (ICRICT has suggested 25%)
  • Indian government has already proposed in a white paper that it could take such a unilateral initiative for digital companies.

The OECD G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (or BEPS Project):

  • It is an OECD/G20 project to set up an international framework to combat tax avoidance by multinational enterprises ("MNEs") using base erosion and profit shifting tools
  • The aim of the project is to mitigate tax code loopholes and country-to-country inconsistencies so that corporations cannot shift profits from a country with a high corporate tax rate to countries with a low tax rate.
  • Implementation phase, 116 countries are involved, including a majority of developing countries.
  • The BEPS project looks to develop multilateral dialogue and could be achieved thanks to a successful international cooperation, unavoidable when it comes to such a domestic and sovereign topic.
  • The European Commission and the US have unilaterally  taken actions in 2017-2018 that implement several key measures of the BEPS project

Concerns:

  • Arbitrary separation between what OECD calls “routine” and “residual” profits, and the proposal that only residual profits will be subject to unitary taxation. This has no economic justification, since profits are anyway net of various costs and interest.
  • The proposal does not clearly specify the criteria for determining routine profits
  • Formula to be used to distribute taxable profits. The OECD suggests only sales revenues as the criterion, but developing countries would lose out from this because they are often the producers of commodities that are consumed in the advanced economies.

Conclusion:

  • A government that is currently ineffective in battling both economic slowdown and declining tax revenues cannot afford to neglect this crucial opportunity.

Connecting the dots:

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that countries lose $500 billion a year because of “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS). Examine.


ECONOMY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

The economic slowdown in the country

Data:

  • Private consumption has contracted and is at an 18-quarter low of 3.1%
  • Rural consumption is in a deep southward dive and is double the rate of the urban slowdown
  • Credit off-take by micro and small industries remains stagnant; 
  • Net exports have shown little or no growth; 
  • GDP growth is at a six-year low with the first quarter of FY20 registering just 5%;
  •  Unemployment is at a 45-year-high.

Recession:

  • The technical term for the same is growth recession. 
  • A recession is defined in economics as three consecutive quarters of contraction in GDP. But since India is a large developing economy, contraction is a rarity. 
  • The last instance of negative growth for India was in 1979. 
  • A growth recession is more commonplace where the economy continues to grow but at a slower pace than usual for a sustained period, what India has been facing nowadays.

Consumption:

  • The growth of the Indian economy had been predominated by consumption inclusive of both -- Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) as well as the Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE).
  • The recent sharp fall in PFCE in the June quarter to 3.1 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent in the March quarter has significantly contributed to the recent slowdown.

Investment:

  • Major component of India's GDP is investment, induced by both -- private and government sectors. It has been a key driver of growth since the liberalisation of 1991, fell by 6.2 percentage points in 2014-19 than in 2011-14

Other Reasons:

  • Partly driven by domestic problems like neglected farmers
  • Weakening global economy 
  • Mr. Trump’s fusillade of trade conflicts.
  • Last weekend’s attack on two Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which sent the global price of oil soaring, underscored just how vulnerable India and other developing countries are to external factors beyond their control.
  • The overhang of bad bank loans, coupled with recent defaults by nonbank financial firms, has curbed lending to consumers and businesses.
  • Policy decisions by India’s central and state governments have worsened the country’s downturn

For example Auto manufacturers: New safety and emissions standards increased the cost of vehicles, nine states raised taxes on car sales, and the banks and finance companies that fund dealers and 80 percent of consumer car purchases were paralyzed by the credit crunch.

  • The textile industry, which employs about 45 million people and is India’s second-largest employer after agriculture, is emblematic of the country’s distress.

Measures taken and their impacts :

  • Recently announced  Bank mergers further disturb a major chunk of the banking system in the coming year.
  • Recently announced package for the automobile sector or making banks pass on interest rate cuts to businesses have little impact
  • The announcement of a transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore from the RBI to the government will allow the government to maintain the fiscal deficit target at 3.3%. But, this will not provide the needed stimulus.( fiscal deficit today is 9%)
  • Government revised GST for the automobile sector, opened up FDI in contract manufacturing sector and even announced the recapitalization of the banking sector.

Way forward:

  • Focus on optimum utilization of funds granted by RBI and direct them to boost investment in the economy both infrastructural and research investment.
  • Structural shifts over the long run can be achieved through tapping into the health and education sectors that long for quality improvements.

Conclusion:

  • Only  long-lasting structural changes can improve the growth potential of the Indian economy and deter the possibility of three slowdowns within the short span of a decade.

Connecting the dots:

  • Recession can be short-lived if corrective actions are taken immediately, failure of which can have a prolonged effect on the health of an economy. Examine

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Galathea National Park and the Campbell Bay National Park is located in which State/Union Territory?

  1. Uttar Pradesh
  2. Lakshadweep Islands
  3. Odisha
  4. Andaman & Nicobar islands

Q.2) Baul music is predominant in which State/region of India ?

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Gujarat
  3. West Bengal
  4. South India

Q.3)Consider the following statements

  1. The overall polling percentage in 2019 Lok Sabha General elections was 67.4%, which is the highest ever turnout in a Lok Sabha poll.
  2. The national turnout among women electors was lower as compared to male electors in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Plogging 

  1. It involves people picking up trash while jogging or brisk walking as a way of cleaning up litter while also taking care of fitness
  2. It was started in Paris during 2015 Climate deal to spread the awareness among people about sustainable lifestyle

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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