Daily Prelims Notes 6 June 2021
- June 6, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
6 June 2021
Table Of Contents
- G 7 NATIONS AGREE ON MINIMUM CORPORATE TAX
- INDEMNITY CLAUSE AND COVID 19 VACCINES
- WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
- PANCHAYAT RAJ MINISTRY RELEASES MODEL PANCHAYAT CITIZEN CHARTER
- US DELAYS TARIFFS AGAINST DIGITAL SERVICES TAX
- BOSE EINSTEIN CONDENSATES
- COLOMBO PORT CITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
- ASPAGNII(TM) – INDIGENEOUS TUMOUR ANTIGEN
- NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY MISSION
- KEDAR NATH SEDITION RULING
- CCS TECHNIQUE POSES THE CHALLENGE OF ESTABLISHING ECONOMIC VALUE
- VIDARBHA TIGER CORRIDORS: TWO STATES ONE BRAND
- PVDPS AND OXYVAN IN HARYANA
- ETHANOL BLENDING TARGET YEAR SHIFTED
- KERALA’S SMART KITCHEN PROJECT
- PLAN TO REDEVELOP CSMT RAILWAY STATION
Subject: International Relations
Context: The Group of Seven said it would back a minimum global corporation tax rate of at least 15%, and put in place measures to ensure that taxes were paid in the countries where businesses operate.
- Major economies are aiming to discourage multinationals from shifting profits — and tax revenues — to low-tax countries regardless of where their sales are made.
- Increasingly, income from intangible sources such as drug patents, software and royalties on intellectual property has migrated to these jurisdictions, allowing companies to avoid paying higher taxes in their traditional home countries.
Global minimum tax
- The global minimum tax rate would apply to overseas profits.
- Governments could still set whatever local corporate tax rate they want, but if companies pay lower rates in a particular country, their home governments could “top-up” their taxes to the minimum rate, eliminating the advantage of shifting profits.
- The OECD said last month that governments broadly agreed on the basic design of the minimum tax but not the rate.
- Other items still to be negotiated include whether investment funds and real estate investment trusts should be covered, when to apply the new rate and ensuring it is compatible with U.S. tax reforms aimed at deterring erosion.
What about that minimum rate?
- Talks are focusing around the U.S. proposal of a minimum global corporation tax rate of 15% – above the level in countries such as Ireland but below the lowest G7 level.
- Any final agreement could have major repercussions for low-tax countries and tax havens.
- The Irish economy has boomed with the influx of billions of dollars in investment from multinationals. Dublin, which has resisted EU attempts to harmonise its tax rules, is unlikely to accept a higher minimum rate without a fight.
Subject: Science & tech
Context: The Union government is in talks with foreign manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines on their demand for indemnity from liability as a condition for selling their vaccines to the country.
- Pfizer, which supplies the Pfizer-Biotech mRNA vaccine, is said to have requested that the government indemnify it from any claim that may arise from vaccine users in the future based on any adverse effects after getting the jab.
- No decision has been made yet on the request. However, it has already given rise to a similar demand from domestic vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India (SII), which says all players should be treated the same way.
Indemnity from liability Clause
- In simple terms, indemnity means security against a loss or other financial stress.
- In legal terms, it means a contractual obligation of one party to compensate another party due to the acts of the former.
- The clause is commonly used in insurance contracts.
- In the case of India, if the government gives an indemnity to foreign vaccine makers to roll out their vaccine in the country, the government, and not the vaccine maker, would be liable to compensate any citizen who claims to have side effects after taking the vaccine jab.
What are ‘Bridging trials’?
- ‘Bridging trials’ are localized clinical trials which generate data related to the impact of foreign medicines/vaccines on the indigenous population before they are rolled out for the public.
- These trials are important in ascertaining the efficacy and potential side-effects related to the medicine/vaccine.
- Besides clearance on indemnity clause, foreign vaccine makers including Pfizer and Moderna had sought relaxation on the requirement for a post-approval bridging trial for its vaccine.
Are there any exceptions to indemnification?
- There are a number of common exceptions to indemnification.
- An indemnification provision may exclude indemnification for claims or losses that result from the indemnified party’s:
Negligence or gross negligence.
Improper use of the products.
Bad faith failure to comply with its obligations in the agreement.
Subject: Current Events
Context: The World Environment Day was observed on 5th June, 2021.
- World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.
- Date of observance: Every year on 5th of June.
- It marks the first day of The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972.
- First year of observance of WED: In 1974 the first WED was held with the theme “Only One Earth”.
- Theme for 2021 is “REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE” with focus on ecosystem restoration (i.e. to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean).
- Every World Environment Day has a different host country, where the official celebrations take place. Host for 2021 is Pakistan.
PM Modi addresses the World Environment Day event
- The Prime Minister released the “Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025”.
- Government has resolved to meet the target of 20 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2025.
- Earlier the resolve was to achieve the target by 2030 which is now preponed by 5 years.
- He also launched the ambitious E-100 pilot project in Pune for the production and distribution of ethanol across the country.
Context: Union Minister of Panchayati Raj released A Model Panchayat Citizens Charter.
- It has been prepared by Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) in collaboration with National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR)
- It is a framework for delivery of the services across the 29 sectors, aligning actions with localised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The Aim of Establishing a Citizen Charter Is to Provide Services to the People in a Time Bound Manner, Redressing Their Grievances and Improving Their Lives.
- It is expected that the Panchayats will utilise this framework to draw up a Citizens Charter and adopt it through a resolution of the Gram Sabha by 15th August, 2021.
- Panchayats are responsible for delivery of basic services as enshrined under article 243G of the Constitution of India, specifically in the areas of Health & Sanitation, Education, Nutrition, and Drinking Water.
National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR)
- It is an autonomous organization under the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
- It is a premier national center of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. It builds capacities of rural development functionaries, elected representatives of PRIs, bankers, NGOs and other stakeholders
- It is recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence.
- The NIRD&PR celebrated its Golden Jubilee Year of establishment in 2008.
- The Institute is located in Hyderabad, Telangana.
- In addition to the main campus at Hyderabad, this Institute has North-Eastern Regional Centre (NERC) at Guwahati, Assam to meet the NE-regional needs.
Subject: International Relations
Context: During the past week, the United States announced and then immediately suspended a 25% tariff on $2 billion of imports from six countries, including India, as a retaliatory measure against each of these countries’ imposition of a digital services tax.
- The immediate suspension of the tariff is likely in part a recognition of the fact that the six countries potentially impacted are limping through a feeble post-COVID-19 recovery and opening a new trade war front could be damaging not only to them, but also to the broader global economy
Digital Services Tax
- The “digital services tax” (DST) is a levy on the overall revenues earned by the supplier of specific digital services.
- India has earlier expanded the scope of the Equalization Levy, or digital tax, to the sale of goods and services in the country by overseas e-commerce firms.
- The Equalization Levy was introduced for the first time in 2016 as 6 per cent tax on revenues earned by non-residents from online advertising and related services.
- The burden of this tax eventually fell on local firms advertising on these platforms.
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR):
- It is responsible for developing and coordinating US international trade.
- The Section 301 gives the USTR broad authority to investigate and respond to a foreign country’s action which may be unfair or discriminatory as well as negatively affect US commerce.
- Adopted through the 1974 Trade act, the Section allows the US President to impose tariffs or other curbs on foreign nations.
- However, the law mandates consultations with trading partners.
Subject: Science & tech
Context: Emergence of order from chaos in turbulent systems and Bose-Einstein condensation. This ordering leads to aeroelastic flutter and thermoacoustic instabilities as observed during the failure of the F1 engine of Apollo rocket during trials.
Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs)
- Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) — the existence of which was predicted by Albert Einstein and Indian mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose almost a century ago — are formed when atoms of certain elements are cooled to near absolute zero (0 Kelvin, minus 273.15 Celsius).
- At this point, the atoms become a single entity with quantum properties, wherein each particle also functions as a wave of matter.
- BECs straddle the line between the macroscopic world governed by forces such as gravity and the microscopic plane, ruled by quantum mechanics.
Why are BECs important?
- Scientists believe BECs contain vital clues to mysterious phenomena such as dark energy — the unknown energy thought to be behind the Universe’s accelerating expansion.
- But BECs are extremely fragile. The slightest interaction with the external world is enough to warm them past their condensation threshold.
- This makes them nearly impossible for scientists to study on Earth, where gravity interferes with the magnetic fields required to hold them in place for observation.
Subject: International Relations
Context: Last month, Sri Lanka passed the controversial Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill, which governs the China-backed Colombo Port City project worth $1.4 billion, amid wide opposition to the creation of a “Chinese enclave” in the island nation.
- The project was launched in September 2014 by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to the island nation under the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration’s second term.
- It is named the “Colombo Port City”.
- It is the largest single foreign investment by China in Sri Lanka among the other massive infrastructure projects.
- The Port City will attract billions of dollars for trade, banking and offshore services similar to what is available in Dubai and Singapore.
- The Port City will be administered by a commission with various powers to fast track investment approvals.
- All transactions within the Port City will be denominated in foreign currency and all salaries earned by any worker will be tax-exempt.
Subject: Science & tech
Context: DBT-NII Receives Trademark for India’s First Indigenous Tumour Antigen SPAG9.
- India’s first indigenous tumour antigen SPAG9 was discovered by Dr Anil Suri in 1998 who is heading the Cancer Research Program at the New Delhi-based National Institute of Immunology (NII), an Autonomous Institute of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
- In a recent development, the SPAG9 antigen has received the trademark ASPAGNIITM.
- Currently, ASPAGNIITM is being used in dendritic cell (DC) based immunotherapy in cervical, ovarian cancer and will also be used in breast cancer.
- Immunotherapy is a new approach that exploits the body’s inner capability to put up a fight against cancer.
- With this approach, either the immune system is given a boost, or the T cells are “trained’’ to identify recalcitrant cancer cells and kill them.
Context: The National Biodiversity Mission can help the dysfunctional relationship between humanity and nature.
- National Biodiversity Mission is one of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology & Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) has identified national science missions which aim to address major scientific challenges to ensure India’s sustainable development.
- Each mission will be led by a lead Ministry and will engage international and national institutional partners, young scientists and industry.
National Biodiversity Mission
- It will includes ,
- a comprehensive documentation of India’s biodiversity with the potential for cataloguing and mapping all lifeforms in India including associated cultural and traditional practices,
- assessment of the distribution and conservation status of India’s biodiversity,
- development of a cadre of professionals adept at handling large sets of environmental data for management and monitoring of biodiversity
- establishment of a vibrant biodiversity based economy on a solid foundation of reliable information
- engagement with the public
- enhanced options for agricultural production and livelihood security and the general well-being of society.
- Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
- Department of Biotechnology.
Context: The Supreme Court quashed case of sedition filed against journalist Vinod Dua for allegedly making remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government’s handling of the migrant crisis during the Covid-19 lockdown last year.
- Section 124A of the IPC penalises sedition as punishable with either imprisonment ranging from three years to a lifetime, a fine, or both.
- The Supreme Court shielded Dua from arrest earlier and the case itself was quashed recently by a two-judge bench comprising Justice U ULalit and Justice Vineet Saran.
- It held that his remarks constituted genuine criticism of the government and could not be labelled seditious. In doing so, the court also reiterated the principles in the landmark case on sedition — KedarNath Singh v Union of India (1962).
KedarNath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962)
- In the landmark 1962 KedarNath Singh case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law, but it also attempted to restrict its scope for misuse.
- The court held that unless accompanied by an incitement or call for violence, criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition.
- “Strong words” of disapproval about the ruling regime did not amount to sedition.
Context: Researchers from Universities of Sydney and Toronto have designed advanced electrolysers to convert captured carbon into building blocks of everyday materials. Some of it is used to produce ethylene.
- CCS technology is designed to capture CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. It can absorb 85-95% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
What is the process?
- The process starts with the capture of generated CO2 which undergoes a compression process to form a dense fluid. This eases the transport and storage of the captured CO2.
- The dense fluid is transported via pipelines and then injected into an underground storage facility.Captured CO2 can also be used as a raw material in other industrial processes such as bicarbonates.
Global progress on CCS
- Absent from INDCs: CCS is absent from intended nationally determined contributions(INDCs) of most countries.Thus, it is clear that national policies have not accepted CCS as a promising technology.
- Less CCUS Facilities: As of 2020, there were only 26 operational CCS facilities capturing around 36-40 million tonnes of carbon per year as cost on storage and transportation is one of the major bottlenecks for implementation of CCS.
Indian Government Initiative:
- National Programme on CO2 Research:India’s Department of Science and Technology has established a national programme on CO2 storage research.
- ACT Initiative: In August 2020, India made a call for proposals to support CCS research, development, pilot and demonstration projects.This is part of the accelerating CCS technologies (ACT) initiative.
- ACT is an international initiative of 16 countries to facilitate the emergence of CCUS via transnational funding of projects aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted innovation and research activities.
- Industry Charter: In September 2020, an ‘Industry Charter’ for near zero emissions by 2050 was agreed to by six Indian companies that will explore different decarbonisation measures including carbon sequestration.
Context: Study maps Vidarbha tiger corridors; movement far beyond guarded areas.
- In a first-of-its-kind project, radio telemetry has been deployed to identify corridors used by tigers in the Vidarbha landscape, tracking their actual movement — indicating that the animals are moving in a much wider swathe of area outside the protected areas than previously known.
- Vidarbha has 331 tigers in a forest area of around 26,775 sq km, dissected by 84,202 km of roads, apart from irrigation canals and other projects. There have been growing instances of man-tiger conflict in the region.
- The project, carried out between 2017 and 2020 using radio signals, identified 37,067 sq km, in all, of tiger corridors, further categorised into five classes as per frequency of tiger use — namely very low (10,289 sq km), low (18,727 sq km), medium (5,689 sq km), high (1,418 sq km) and very high (942 sq km).
- Their report says that the tiger movement extends well beyond forested structural corridors modelled by earlier studies. The study shows extensive use of agricultural land by tigers adjoining small fragmented forests and rivers.
Subject : Governance
Context : “Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme”, and Oxy Van (Oxygen Forests) was announced on the occasion of World Environment Day by Chief Minister of Haryana
Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme (PVDPS)
- The state government has taken an initiative to honour all those trees which are of the age of 75 years and above and have served humanity throughout their life by producing oxygen, reducing pollution, providing shade and so on.
- Such trees will be identified throughout the state and these will be looked after by involving local people in this scheme.
- For maintenance of trees older than 75 years, a “pension amount” of Rs 2,500 would be given per year in the name of PVDPS. This ‘tree pension’ shall continue to increase every year, on lines similar to the Old Age Samman Pension Scheme in the state.
Oxy Van (Oxygen Forest)
- The state government is calling an Oxy Van are identified pieces of land, on which as many as 3 crore trees would be planted. The Oxy Vans will occupy 10 per cent of the 8 lakh hectares of land across Haryana.
- “Oxy Van, Panchkula, will be established in BirGhaggar over an area of 100 acres to create Mother Nature’s green lungs so that residents of Panchkula can breathe in fresh oxygen. Total cost of project shall be Rs 1 crore,” the government said.
Subject : Economy
Context :Ethanol-petrol-blending 20% target date advanced to 2025.
- As India looks to cut carbon emissions and reduce oil imports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that the deadline for achieving 20% ethanol-blending with petrol was pushed to 2025 in the country.
- The government set a target of reaching 10% ethanol-blending in petrol by 2022 last year, and aimed to mix 20% of ethanol mixed with 90 per cent of diesel by 2030.
- Ethanol is a bio-fuel obtained primarily from sugarcane, damaged food grains such as wheat and broken rice.
- It has a higher octane number than gasoline and hence, it improves the petrol octane number.
- Mixing it with petrol eases the pressure on India, which is the world’s third-biggest oil importer, and also helps farmers as it provides them with an alternate source of income.
- It is also environment-friendly as agriculture waste is less polluting.
Subject: Govt Schemes
Context : Chief Minister of Kerala, PinarayiVijayan has announced a secretary-level committee will formulate guidelines and recommendations on implementation of the “Smart Kitchen Scheme” in state to fulfil commitments of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
- Under the scheme, KSFE would give soft loans to women from all walks of life for purchasing household gadgets or equipment.
- The cost of household equipment can be repaid as instalments within a particular period.
- The interest of the loan/cost would be equally shared among the beneficiary, local self-government body and the state government.
- To implement the scheme, KSFE would start smart kitchen chits.
- The budget has set apart an amount of Rs 5 crore for the initial phase of the scheme, which would be implemented through the Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE), a state-run chit fund and lending firm.
Subject : Current Events
Context : The plan is to turn CSMT into a state-of-the-art transport hub with world-class amenities while restoring its heritage value. After completion of the project, the station is expected to offer a much-improved travel experience for commuters.
- The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC), which is the nodal agency for station redevelopment in India, has this week shortlisted nine bidders for the redevelopment of the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station in Mumbai.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)
- The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, Maharashtra is a fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, with a blend of themes derived from Indian traditional architecture.
- The terminus exhibits an important interchange of influences between the two. The building, designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay (now Mumbai) as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port city in the Indian subcontinent within the British Commonwealth.
- The terminal was built over ten years, starting in 1878 according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture.
- This magnificent terminus serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways in India and is one of the busiest stations of the nation. Till 1996, it was known as Victoria Terminal, named so in the honour of Queen Victoria.
- On 2nd July 2004, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO nominated this magnificent specimen of late 19th century railway architecture as a World Heritage Site.
- This terminus is one of the rare specimens of the excellent fusion of traditional western and Indian architecture and adds a unique variety to the rich Indian heritage.