Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 22, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

In a first, eight Indian beaches recommended for Blue Flag International eco-label

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

On the eve of International Coastal Clean-Up Day which is celebrated across 100 countries since 1986, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced at a virtual event that for the first time eight beaches of India have been recommended for the coveted International eco-label, the Blue flag certification.

Background

  • The recommendations are done by an independent national jury composed of eminent environmentalists and scientists.
  • Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world.
  • The eight beaches are Shivrajpur in Gujarat, Ghoghla in Daman&Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri beach in Karnataka, Kappad in Kerala, Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, Golden beach of Odisha and Radhanagar beach in Andaman and Nicobar.

About the Highlights

  • The concept of ICZM was introduced in 1992 during the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro and most of the coastal countries in the world have been adopting ICZM principles for managing their coastal zones.
  • Thus, adoption of ICZM principles for managing and sustainably developing our coastal regions is helping India in keeping with its commitments to international agreements on ICZM.
  • The objective of BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations.
  • This program promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature.
  • International Coastal Cleanup Day got its start in 1986 when Linda Maraniss met Kathy O’Hara while working for Ocean Conservancy. O’Hara had just completed a report called Plastics in the Ocean: More Than a Litter Problem.
  • The two of them reached out to other ocean-lovers and organized a Cleanup for Ocean Conservancy.
  • The first Cleanup consisted of 2,800 volunteers. Since that time, the Cleanup has grown into an international event in more than 100 countries.

Source: Times of India.

JK-IGRAMS: New grievance redress system unveiled in J&K

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Context

  • Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) launched the Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JK-IGRAMS).
  • JK-IGRAMS will be an effective grievance redressal mechanism which is the most important component of a well-governed responsive administration.

Background

  • The revamped system will decentralise handling and redressal of public grievances by making district collectors and deputy commissioners the primary level of receiving, disposing and monitoring grievances.
  • The system is being launched on a pilot basis in three districts  Jammu, Srinagar, and Reasi and will gradually be rolled out in the remaining districts by October 2. 

About the Highlights

  • It will be available round the clock with applicant OTP authentication, acknowledgement to the applicant at each stage.
  • There will be a minute by a minute status update of the grievances on the portal.
  • The system will have dedicated call centres and the complaints and their status can be monitored online.
  • The maximum time for compliant redressal has been set at 15 days.
  • It is the first online grievance management system in the country which is linked to the central government (at the top level) and districts, tehsils and blocks (at the bottom level).

About the significance

  • It will provide an accountability administration to all the citizens of J&K.
  • It will make the existing mechanism more robust and efficient.
  • It will create an interface with the public and focus on governance issues in the Union Territory.

Source: Indian Express.

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Task force reviews plan to curb pollution in Delhi-NCR

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister has asked Delhi government to ensure that local sources of air pollution such as open burning of waste, road and construction and demolition dust and industrial emissions are managed carefully ahead of winter before air pollution peaks, according to a statement issued by environment ministry.
  • At a high-level task force meeting, he also called for plans for air pollution hot spots.

Background

  • The meeting was attended by chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, secretaries of different departments including ministries of environment, agriculture, road, petroleum and the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The task force was constituted to improve the air quality in National Capital Region of Delhi.

About the Highlights

  • The emphasis should be laid on deployment of teams for control of open burning of waste, IT-enabled monitoring of mechanical road sweepers, improvement in utilisation of construction and demolition waste and site specific implementation of action plan for identified hot spots.
  • It was decided that similar site-specific plans will be implemented in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The measures should be implemented well before the onset of severe air conditions and focus should be on compliance of emission norms by industries.
  • The incidence of stubble burning has reduced by more than 50% in last two years and the number of “good” air quality index days has gone up.
  • It was observed that after recent inclusion of residue-based power and fuel plants under priority sector lending by Reserve Bank of India, both state and central governments should jointly work out action plans for rapid deployment of such units.
  • Measures related to diversification of crop and strengthening of supply chains were also discussed.
  • Delhi has recorded “moderate” air quality days consecutively since September 9.
  • The city had recorded four “good” and 27 “satisfactory” air days in August with air quality not falling to moderate levels even once.
  • But meteorological and air quality scientists said the season is changing gradually leading to meteorological conditions that are unfavourable for dispersal of pollutants.

Source: Indian Express.

HOCL, a PSU under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers gets BIS certification for all its products

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Hindustan Organic Chemicals Limited, HOCL, a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been granted Bureau of Indian Standards, BIS certification for all its products.
  • HOCL has been a pioneer in the manufacturing of Chemicals since its inception and quality is its motto since then. 

Background

  • The company is supporting and implementing the Make in India initiative of the Government of India in one or other way.
  • All the products of the company are widely being accepted, especially in the Pharmaceutical industry where the highest product quality is called for.

About the Highlights

  • HOCL is also an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified Organization. 
  • HOCL, a leader in the chemical industry has a manufacturing unit at Kochi in Kerala.
  • It provides basic organic chemicals essential for vital industries like drugs and pharmaceuticals, resins and laminates, dyes and dyes intermediates, rubber chemicals, paints, pesticides and textile industry, virtually touching every facet of life.
  • It is also manufacturing sanitizers in this period of COVID pandemic.
  • HOCL was incorporated in 1960 as the first endeavor to indigenize manufacture of basic chemicals, attaining self-reliance and reducing the country’s dependence on imports of vital organic chemicals.

Source: AIR News.

SPICe+ Portal deployed by MCA

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Context

  • To improve ease of doing business for new MSMEs, the government has launched a new process for registration and classification of enterprises in the name of a new portal – Udyam registration.
  • Small businesses won’t have to upload any documents or proof except the Aadhaar number for registration.

Background

  • The MSME Ministry has also organized a single-window system at Champions Control Rooms (set up at MSME Development Institutes across India) and district industries centres for facilitating the process.
  • MSMEs facing the problems in managing multiple documents and registrations such as Udyog Aadhaar etc. will definitely find this single portal for registration helpful.

About the Highlights

  • This will also help the government in identifying the possible beneficiaries of various schemes and packages announced for MSMEs such as collateral-free credit, subordinate debt for distressed MSMEs etc. and pass these benefits directly to them.
  • This is the key reason behind the launching of this registration portal.
  • This will also help in saving time and cost for small businesses.
  • The portal will provide units with a registration number following which an Udyam Registration certificate will be issued to enterprises.
  • The certificate will have a QR code embedded through which details about the new enterprises could be accessed on the registration portal.
  • Interestingly, MSMEs won’t have to renew their registration and also the registration process is free of cost.
  • The ministry added that the information on investment and turnover of the business linked with the PAN and GST will be sourced automatically from the government databases even as the “online system will be integrated with Income Tax and GSTIN systems.”

Source: AIR News.

Lok Sabha passes Bill to amend Companies Act, promote ease of doing business

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Companies Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which decriminalises a number of technical and filing-related corporate offences.
  • It also allows direct listing of Indian companies on foreign stock exchanges and revokes the criminal provisions added to the Companies Act for violations of provisions of corporate social responsibility rules.

Background

  • The Bill is set to replace an Ordinance that has already brought these changes into effect.
  • It also looks to promote ease of doing business.

About the Highlights

  • Around 48 Sections of the Companies Act, 2013 will be amended to decriminalise various offences.
  • There are currently around 124 penal provisions compared to 134 in 2013 under the Companies Act.
  • There will be no relaxation for serious offences, including fraud and those that cause “injury to public interest or deceit”, the number of “non-compoundable” offences under the Act remains the same at 35.
  • Generally, compoundable offences are those which can be settled by paying certain amount of money.
  • There will also be a new chapter on producer organisation, the minister said, adding that it will be particularly helpful for farmer producer organisations. For promoting “ease of doing business,” that 17 provisions will be amended.

Source: Indian Express.

Taxation And Other Laws (Relaxation & Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill 2020

Focus: GS2.                                

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


Context

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, which was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • The Bill seeks replacement of the Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated on March 31 this year.

Background

  • As per Finance Minister Sitharaman, the ordinance was necessary to defer various compliance deadlines under GST and Income Tax (I-T) Act during the COVID-19 times.
  • It also proposes to amend the Income-tax Act, 1961, the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017; the Finance Act, 2019; the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020 and the Finance Act, 2020 which are administered by the Department of Revenue through two boards, namely, the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes.

About the Highlights

  • While introducing the Bill, Sitharaman said it provides for extension of various time limits for completion or compliance of actions under the specified Acts and reduction in interest, waiver of penalty and prosecution for delay in payment of certain taxes or levies during the specified period.
  • The reliefs include extending deadlines for filing returns and for linking PAN and Aadhaar.
  • The bill seeks to give tax exemption for contributions made to PM-CARES Fund, which was set up in March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The bill seeks to make faceless assessment applicable to at least eight processes under the I-T Act, including for collection and recovery of tax and gathering of information.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (2nd Amendment) Bill:
    1. It amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
    2. The Bill seeks to temporarily suspend initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) under the Code.
    3. The Bill clarifies that during this period, CIRP can still be initiated for any defaults arising before March 25, 2025.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

        A. 1 and 2 only
        B. 2 and 3 only
        C. 1 and 3 only
        D. AOTA

Solution: A

  • The Bill clarifies that during this period, CIRP can still be initiated for any defaults arising before March 25, 2025.

  1. Who serves as the chairperson of Business Advisory Committee?

       A. President of India
       B. Prime Minister
       C. Speaker of the Lok Sabha
       D. Speaker of the Rajya Sabha

Solution: C

 

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