Current Affairs 12th January, 2019

PAPER – 1 AND PAPER - 3

    Topics Covered

    1. Women Empowerment

    2. Agriculture

    3. Conservation of Environment

Women of India Organic Festival

Image result for women of india organic festival

What to read?

Prelims – About the festival

Mains – Significance of the festival in bringing women into the organic stream


The Ministry of Women and Child Development is organising the three-day 6th ‘Women of India Organic Festival’  in Chandigarh, to celebrate and promote women farmers and entrepreneurs in the organic sector from the remotest parts of India.

The festival aims to encourage Indian women entrepreneurs and farmers to connect with more buyers and thus, empower them through financial inclusion, while promoting organic culture in India. Through this festival, the Ministry also aims to educate people about its various initiatives and schemes relating to women and children

Significance

The Women of India Organic Festival has been held annually in New Delhi since 2015, and makes its debut in Chandigarh this year, bringing the joy of going organic to the evergreen Leisure Valley, which is a continuum of gardens, to showcase the varied products of women farmers and entrepreneurs. With each year, the sales and footfalls at the Organic Festival have only increased, indicating a growing interest in organic produce.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

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

  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

GST Council

What to read?

Prelims - About GST Council- composition, functions and related key facts, overview of GST.

Mains - Issues associated with GST, need for reforms and various measures announced in this regard.

The GST Council in its recently held 32nd meeting took a slew of decisions aimed at reducing the tax and compliance burden on small and medium enterprises.

Image result for the GST Council in its recently held 32nd meeting took a slew of decisions aimed at reducing the tax and compliance burden on small and medium enterprises.

Measures announced:

The annual turnover limit under which companies would be exempt from GST has been raised to ₹40 lakh for most States and ₹20 lakh for the North Eastern and hill states, from the earlier limit of ₹20 lakh and ₹10 lakh, respectively.

The limit for eligibility for the Composition Scheme is raised to an annual turnover of ₹1.5 crore from April 1, 2019. So far, only manufacturers and traders were eligible for this scheme. The Scheme now has been extended to small service providers with an annual turnover of up to ₹50 lakh, at a tax rate of 6%.

Kerala can levy a cess of up to 1% for up to two years on intra-State supplies to help finance the disaster relief efforts following the recent floods in the state.

 Implications and outcomes of these measures:

  • A very large part of GST revenue comes from the formal sector and large companies. These measures have been taken to help the small and medium companies. The revenue impact due to these will be minimal.

  • Allowing disaster cess of 1% to be introduced in the State of Kerala on local supplies may be an administrative issue for both businesses and government and this may set a precedence for other States to demand additional levy.

  • Increasing the GST threshold limit would allow about 10 lakh traders to be exempt from the compliance burden of GST, and increasing the Composition Scheme limit would benefit about 20 lakh small businessesthat fall between the annual turnover brackets of ₹1 crore and ₹1.5 crore.

Facts for Prelims:

The Composition Scheme currently allows companies with an annual turnover of up to ₹1 crore to opt for it, and file returns on a quarterly basis at a nominal rate of 1%

 Why do we need a GST Council?

The GST council is the key decision-making body that will take all important decisions regarding the GST. The GST Council dictates tax rate, tax exemption, the due date of forms, tax laws, and tax deadlines, keeping in mind special rates and provisions for some states. The predominant responsibility of the GST Council is to ensure to have one uniform tax rate for goods and services across the nation.

 How is the GST Council structured?

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by the GST Council. Article 279 (1) of the amended Indian Constitution states that the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of the Article 279A.

 According to the article, GST Council will be a joint forum for the Centre and the States. It consists of the following members:

  • The Union Finance Minister will be the Chairperson

  • As a member, the Union Minister of State will be in charge of Revenue of Finance

  • The Minister in charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State government, as members.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth. 

Henley Passport Index

Image result for henley passport index

What to read?

For Prelims and Mains: Passport Index- features, performance of various countries and significance of the index.

Henley Passport Index 2019 has been released. The Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

Background:

The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom for their citizens. It started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.

 Definition:

The HPI consists of a ranking of passports according to how many other territories can be reached ‘visa-free’ (defined below). All distinct destination countries and territories in the IATA database are considered. 

Rankings of various countries:

  • India jumped two positions from 81st in 2018 to 79th this year.

  • Japan retained its top spot as the world’s most travel-friendly passport due to the document’s access to 190 countries.

  • Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal ranked further low at 104, 102 and 94 respectively.

  • South Korea edged up the ranking from October’s index to join Singapore, offering access to 189 jurisdictions.

  • China jumped almost 20 places in just two years, from 85th in 2017 to 69th this year.

  • European countries also performed favourably, with European Union member states along with Norway and the US filling in the places behind the top three nations although the UK continues to drop down the rankings, along with the US.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Democracy Index 2018

Image result for democracy index 2018

What to read?

Prelims: Democracy Index 2018- features and performance of various countries, what is a flawed democracy?

Mains: Concerns expressed over India and measures needed to improve.

 Democracy Index 2018 has been released. It is released annually by The Economist.

The EIU Democracy Index provides a snapshot of the state of world democracy for 165 independent states and two territories.

The Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime.

 Performance of India:

India is ranked at 41 – a notch above last year. It is still classified as a ‘flawed democracy’ according to the index. India achieved a score of 7.23 on the index to maintain its position – the same it did last year. This is the lowest ever score attributed to India in the index ever since its publication.

India ranks below the US (ranked 25th in the index) and other so called ‘flawed democracies’ like Italy, France, Botswana and South Africa.

 Flawed democracy:

The report defines a flawed democracy as nations that “have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.”

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

World Gold Council (WGC)

Image result for world gold council (wgc)

What to read?

Prelims and Mains: WGC- composition, functions and significance, demand for gold- concerns and demands.

 WGC has released a report on gold demand in 2019.

Important observations made:

  • Performance of financial markets, monetary policy in key economies including India, and the dollar movement will determine gold demand in 2019.

  • Since gold is considered a safe haven, during choppy markets, the demand for gold improves, normally. Emerging markets, led by India and China–the biggest consuming markets–make up 70% of consumer demand for the metal.

Image result for world gold demand

About World Gold Council

The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.

The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.

Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.