Current Affairs 8th February, 2019

PAPER – 1

Topics Covered

1. History – Modern India

2. Art and Culture

Revival of Former French colony in Kolkata

Restoration plans:French Ambassador Alexander Zeigler and Heritage Commission Chairperson Shuvaprasanna unveiling the plaque at Registry Office Building.Special Arrangement

What to read?

Prelims – About the importance and revival of the site

The erstwhile French colony of Chandannagar, 50 km from Kolkata, French Ambassador and West Bengal Heritage Commission Chairperson unveiled the building’s historical significance.

About the Building

  • Set up in 1875, the two-storied building served as the registry office and court during the French rule in Chandannagar (or Chandernagore).

  • Located next to Rani Ghat jetty on the banks of Hooghly, it is in ruins and awaits restoration

Failure of French model to restore

About a year ago, the French Consulate in Kolkata had said that they were mulling a model of financing the restoration of Registry Office Building through crowd funding, but the initiative did not work out and now both the State government and the consulate are looking at other ways to fund the building’s restoration.

Related Restoration effort in Seerampore

Barely 20 km downstream from Chandannagar is Sreerampore, where a 233-year-old Danish tavern was successfully restored in 2018. The restoration was jointly carried out by experts from Denmark and West Bengal government.

Seerampore – Former Danish Colony which was sold to British by 1860s.

European Colonies in and around Kolkata

European State

Colony

Barrackpore

British

Hooghly

Portuguese and British

Serampore

Danes

Chinsura

Dutch

Chandernagore

French


PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Governance

Prime Minister’s Office

Image result for prime minister's office india upsc

What to read?

Prelims – About PMO

Defence Ministry protested against PMO undermining Rafale negotiations

Prime Minister’s Office

Prime Minister’s Office [PMO] is a staff agency assisting the Prime Minister in the efficient discharge of his role, functions and responsibilities.

Evolution of PMO

  • The Prime Minister’s Secretariat was created in 1947 when India gained independence. The Secretariat was created for the immediate purpose of taking over the functions performed till then by the Secretary to the Governor-General, as the Prime Minister took over almost all functions which the Governor-General prior to independence, performed as the executive head of the Government.

  • PMO is an extra-constitutional body that has no mention in the Indian Constitution. However, it was given the status of a department under the Government of India Allocation of Business Rules, 1961.

  • Since June 1977, it is known as Prime Minister’s Office and is headed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister who is now designated as the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE

  • The PMO is headed by a Principal Secretary who has always been a senior civil servant or a retired bureaucrat, generally belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service or any other service.

  • The organisational hierarchy is flexible and the size and the composition may vary with the change in the political leadership.

  • Below the Principal Secretary, there is a Secretary, Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries according to the changing needs and work.

  • Besides bureaucrats, Prime Minister may appoint a trusted political ally and colleague as a political advisor. He may be often asked to act as an informal trouble shooter due to his political expertise or as a mediator who soothes tangled fuzzes or to accompany the Prime Minister to political meetings or to act as a media advisor. Thus he is a trusted and confident staff of the Prime Minister.

PAPER -2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

Motion of Thanks in Parliament

Image result for motion of thanks  upsc

What to read?

Prelims – About the Motion

Mains – Procedure and Amendments made to Motion of Thanks

The Prime Minister replied to the motion of thanks on the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha. He thanked the various Members of the House, for adding vigour into the debate, and sharing insightful points.

Motion of Thanks

Motion of Thanks is a motion in Indian Parliament which follows the address of the President of India to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the commencement of first session of a new Lok Sabha and first session of every year.

Procedure:
• President’s address is the speech delivered by the President of India to both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year (this is usually the budget session). This speech is a statement of the government policy and is approved by the cabinet.
• The president highlights legislative and policy activities of the government, achievements of the previous year and broad agenda of the upcoming year.
• This address is followed by a Motion of Thanks, which is moved in each house by an MP of the ruling party.
• At the end of these discussions, the Prime Minister gives replies to the points or questions raised.
• After the reply of the PM is over, the Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses. A failure to get motion of thanks passed (which may happen rarely) amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government.

 

Important Note on Motion of Thanks

This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion. However, before such                       voting, some members may also move amendment to the address. Such amendments may be: for              emphasising or adding issues addressed by the president for including some issues or highlight some issues which did not find mention in the speech there have already been three instances so far.

Amendment to Motion of Thanks
An Opposition-sponsored amendment to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address has been adopted by the Rajya Sabha in 2015. Before 2015, there were just three occasions on which the President’s Address was amended in the Rajya Sabha, once each during the tenures of Indira Gandhi, V.P. Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

PAPER – 2 AND PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Statutory Bodies

Only 50% of PAN linked to Aadhar

Image result for PAN-Aadhaar Linkage

What to read?

Prelims – About PAN and Aadhar

Mains – Impact of PAN  - Aadhar Linkage

With less than two months to go for the deadline to link Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Aadhaar, only a little more than half of PAN holders have linked them.

Only 23 crore of the total 42 crore PAN holders have linked them

PAN Card

  • PAN Card is a Permanent Account Number consisting of 10-digit alphanumeric number, which is used as an identity proof and issued under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961.

  • PAN Card is issued by the Indian Income Tax Department under the supervision of the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT)

  •  It is also issued to foreign nationals like investors as a subject to a valid visa unlike Aadhaar Number and Driving License but it is not acceptable as a proof of Indian citizenship.

Aadhar Card

  • Aadhaar is a unique identification number which is issued to all Indian residents under section 3 of The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. This 12 digit unique identity number serves as a proof of identity anywhere in India.

  • United States of America also have a similar kind of social security number issued to its residents.

  • Issuance - Aadhar is issued by Government of India which delegates its power to UIDAI        (Unique Identification Authority Of India).

  • UIDAI is responsible for the processes of enrolment and authentication and such other functions as may be assigned to it under the Aadhaar Act 2016.

  • The main objective of aadhar is to ensure good governance and for efficient transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services to the individual.

PAN – Aadhar Linkage

Linking Aadhaar card to one’s Permanent Account Number (PAN) card is no longer a choice.

Details

  • According to the Supreme Court’s judgement passed on 9th June 2017, anyone who holds an Aadhaar card has to link it to his/her PANs and mention the same in the tax returns.

  • The government has set march 31, 2019 after many postponement as the deadline for linking Aadhaar card with the PAN card.

  • However, those who do not have Aadhaar can e-file tax returns without the sameuntil now.

  • Non-resident Indians (NRIs), however, are not required to quote Aadhaar number while filing income tax returns back home.

What will happen if one does not link Aadhaar with the PAN?

  • Failing to link Aadhaar and PAN may lead to invalidation of one’s PAN card.

  • If that happens, the PAN card of the concerned will cease to serve as an identity proof, debarring him/her from transactions that cannot be carried out without quoting PAN.

Significance of PAN-Aadhaar Linkage

  • The interlinking of PAN card, Aadhaar and bank accounts, indicates that the government will be able to keep a track of one’s financial transactions. This is expected to result in more transparency in financial transactions across the country.

  • With this linkage, the government is also trying to solve the problem of people having multiple PAN cards and filing tax returns with those

  • The number of tax-payers in the country is very low. The government intends to check tax evaders with PAN-Aadhaar linkage.

Argument against the linkage

  • The provision that makes it obligatory on individuals filing income tax returns to link their permanent account numbers (PAN) to their Aadhaar, was unconstitutional as it, among other things, infringed a number of fundamental rights

  • The mandatory linking of Aadhaar to PAN under the newly-included Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act is a “direct invasion” by the state into the citizens’ right to make free, voluntary and informed consent.

  • There is complete collision Aadhaar Act and Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which provides for mandatory quoting for the Aadhaar. However, UIDAI clearly states that it is voluntary.


PAPER – 2 AND PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Schemes

2. Governance

3. Indian Economy

4. Agriculture

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana: Guidelines launched for States to implement

PM-Kisan Portal launched

Image result for Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN)

What to read?

Prelims – What is farm Income support plan PM KISAN?

Mains – Guidelines to the State

Income Tax assesse and sitting or former Members of Parliament or State legislatures are among those who have been excluded from the scope of the Centre’s scheme of income support for farmers, announced in the Union Budget.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare launched a platform named PM Kisan, http://pmkisan.nic.in, under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) for uploading the details of the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF).


Image result for PM-Kisan Portal launched

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana was announced in the Union Interim Budget 2019 by Finance Minister.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi will provide assured income to small and marginal farmers.

  • All Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) with 2 hectares of cultivable land will be provided income support of Rs 6000 per year.

  • The amount will be transferred directly into their account in 3 equal instalments.

  • The complete expenditure of Rs 75000 crore for the scheme will borne by the Union Government in 2019-20.

  • Over 12 crore farmer families will be benefitted under the scheme.

  • The scheme is being implemented with effect from December 2018.

Objective behind launch of the scheme

Considering that the declining prices of agricultural commodities and food inflation led to reduced returns for farmers, the Government felt the need for structured income support for farmers to procure seeds and labour.

Guidelines to the States for implementation of the Scheme

  • The selection of eligible small farmer families under the scheme will be undertaken by the State Governments.

  • The necessary details such as bank account details will be provided on the online portal so that the first instalment of the benefits can be transferred to the eligible families.

  • The States will prepare database of eligible beneficiary landholder farmer families in the villages capturing the Name, Age, Gender, Category (SC/ST) , Aadhaar Number/ Driving Licence/Voters’ ID Card/ NREGA Job Card, Bank Account Number, IFSC Code.

  • Though mobile number is not mandatory, but it may be noted when available so that the information related to transfer of benefit can be communicated.

  • States/UTs shall ensure that there is no duplication of the payment transferred to eligible families.

  • Speedy settlement in case of wrong or incomplete bank details of the beneficiary should be ensured.

  •  

PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Infrastructure

2nd Longest Railway tunnel to come up at  Vizhinnjam, Kerela

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/svrhgg/article26209316.ece/alternates/FREE_660/07tvark01-KRCAGH35CUL6V1jpgjpg

What to read?

Prelims – About the Railway tunnel Project, Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport

A 10.7-km railway line, including a 9.02-km tunnel, has been proposed to connect the upcoming Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport to the railway network.

About Vizhinjam Railway Tunnel

  • It will be the country’s second longest.

  • The tunnel which is 9.02 km runs near Balaramapuram station on the Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthapuram railway line

  • The proposed railway line from Balaramapuram to Vizhinjam will be a single line and will be sufficient for the movement of 9 to 10 rakes daily through the corridor for the next 20 years

  • The plan is to establish the railway link by May 2022.

  • The development of the Balaramapuram railway station is being explored as part of the rail link to the seaport.

Note - An 11-km-long tunnel across the Pir Panjal mountain range on the Banihal-Qazigund railway line in Jammu and Kashmir, is the longest such transportation passage in India and second longest in Asia.

Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport

Image result for vizhinjam international multipurpose deepwater seaport

  • Vizhinjam International Seaport is a port that as of 2019 is under construction on the Arabian Sea coast at Trivandrum, India.

  •  It is proposed to follow the landlord port model with the intention of catering for passenger, container and other cargo shipping.

Landlord port model - the landlord port is characterized by its mixed public-private orientation. Under this model, the port authority acts as regulatory body and as landlord, while port operations (especially cargo handling) are carried out by private companies.


PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Indian Economy

2. Banking

RBI offers Rate cut

Image result for RBI offers Rate cut

What to read?

Prelims – About Bank Rate and Repo rate, Neutral and Calibrated Tightening

Mains – impact of Repo rate cut in Indian Economy

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the policy repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% in a bid to revive economic growth as it projected retail inflation to remain below its target of 4% for the next 12 months. The rate reduction was the first since August 2017.

Relation and Difference between Bank rate and Repo Rate

  • Repo rate - the rate at which RBI lends to its clients generally against government securities. Reduction in repo rate helps the commercial banks to get money at a cheaper rate and increase in repo rate discourages the commercial banks to get money as the rate increases and becomes expensive.

  • Bank rate - the rate charged by the central bank for lending funds to commercial banks. Bank rates influence lending rates of commercial banks. Base rate is the minimum rate set by the Reserve Bank of India below which banks are not allowed to lend to its customers.

Neutral  monetary policy - Assurance of stable interest rate, with the control on inflation as projected. No hike in interest rate in near future.

Calibrated monetary policy - Uncertainty of stable rate as well as probability of rate to go high/forward with no other option. Certainly interest rate hike is possible.

Impact on the Economy by Repo rate cut

  • The move will enable banks to lower their lending rates.

  • The transmission of this rate cut would reduce the borrowing costs of retail borrowers, MSMEs and corporates, thereby boosting both private capital and private consumption

  • This will help in achieving the interim budget’s objective of stimulating private consumption and housing demand.

  • It will provide a further fillip to the demand side for real estate 

  • It will reduce their marginal cost of funds based lending rates (MCLR).

    • MCLR refers to the minimum interest rate that a bank will charge on the loan; it cannot lend below this rate. 

New External Benchmark

Image result for New External Benchmark

With the start of the new financial year, i.e., from April 1, 2019 banks will have to use one of the four recommended external benchmarks to determine the interest rates while disbursing new floating loans and new loans given to micro and small enterprises

a) Reserve Bank of India Policy repo rate, or 
b) Government of India 91 days Treasury bill yield produced by the Financial Benchmarks India Private Ltd. (FBIL), or 
c) Government of India 182 days Treasury Bill yield produced by FBIL, or 
d) Any other benchmark market interest rate produced by FBIL