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Daily Current Affairs – 24th Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 24th Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

Updating Census Registers

Why in News

Recently, the Registrar General of India (RGI) has written to all State coordinators to update the census register.

  • census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, and acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population.

Key Points

  • The Order: RGI has written to all State coordinators to update names of an area, locality, colony or a building in the “charge register”.
  • Charge register: The charge register shows the distribution of work among enumerators and marks the House Listing Blocks (HLB) to be visited by each official.
    • HLB is a primary unit of collection of data.
    • Use of Charge Register: It is an important census document that will help enumerators to collect details during the first phase of census house listing and housing census and National Population Register (NPR).
    • The register will also be used for the field work relating to the updating of NPR since the same functionaries will be engaged.
  • Implication: The census exercise was suspended indefinitely owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The communication from RGI may be an indication that the census exercise may take off in the near future.

Registrar General of India

  • The Census Organisation was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census till the 1951 Census.
  • The Government of India, in 1949 established an organisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India to develop systematic collection of statistics on the size of population, its growth, etc.
  • Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.
  • It arranges, conducts and analyses the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.
    • Census of India: It provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
      • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, as of 2011.
      • While it has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.
      • Post-1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
    • Linguistic Survey of India: The primary objective of the present Linguistic Survey of India is to present an updated linguistic scenario.
      • It is conducted along with the decennial Census exercise.
      • It also provides necessary inputs to the social/educational planners in respective States for their planning to attain the envisaged goals.
      • First linguistic survey of India was published by George Abraham Grierson in 1928.
  • The position of Registrar is usually held by a civil servant holding the rank of Joint Secretary.

National Population Register (NPR)

  • NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. It is prepared at the local (village and sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national levels under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  • The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011.
  • In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.

CYBERSECURITY

Beware of illegal digital lending apps: RBI

Context:

RBI has released an advisory on digital lending apps.

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Background:

The advisory comes in the backdrop of at least three borrowers in Telangana committing suicide in the recent past, following alleged harassment by personnel of such lenders, and many more complaining of being subjected to coercive methods after defaulting on repayments.

Highlights:

  1. Public should be wary of unauthorised digital lending platforms and mobile apps.
  2. Public should verify antecedents of the company/ firm offering loans online or through mobile apps.
  3. Consumers should never share copies of KYC documents with unidentified persons or unverified/unauthorised apps.
  4. They can report such apps/bank account information associated with the apps to law enforcement agencies concerned or use sachet portal (https://sachet.rbi.org.in) to file complaint.

What are the issues with respect to digital lending apps?

  1. They attract borrowers with promise of loans in a quick and hassle-free manner.
  2. But, Excessive rates of interest and additional hidden charges are demanded from borrowers.
  3. Such platforms adopt unacceptable and high-handed recovery methods.
  4. They misuse agreements to access data on the mobile phones of the borrowers.

What next?

Cautioning people against falling prey to “such unscrupulous activities,” the RBI said “legitimate public lending activities can be undertaken by banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) registered with RBI and other entities who are regulated by the State governments under statutory provisions, such as the money lending acts of the States concerned.”


ECONOMY

Cairn Energy wins arbitration award against India in tax dispute

Context:

  • An international arbitration tribunal has ruled in favour of Cairn Energy PLC of the U.K and has ordered India to return up to $1.4 billion to Cairn Energy PLC, a decision that the Government of India may challenge.

Details:

  • The dispute between Cairn Energy PLC of U.K and the income tax authorities is over an internal transfer of share between the parent company and its subsidiary.
  • The dispute over capital gains tax was the bone of contention between Cairn Energy and the tax authorities of India.
  • The tribunal charged India of violating UK-India bilateral investment treaty and international laws.

The story so far:

  • The dispute between the Indian government and Cairn has its genesis in an issue arising over the transferred shares from ‘The Cairn UK’ to ‘Cairn India’ in 2006-07.
  • The income tax authorities alleged that Cairn UK had made capital gains and served a tax notice under retrospective taxation provisions.
  • The multiple interpretations of capital gains ensured that the company refused to pay the tax, which led to cases being filed at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and the High Court.
  • Cairn lost the case at ITAT. A case on the valuation of capital gains is still unresolved in front of the Delhi High Court.
  • In 2011, Cairn Energy sold the majority of its India business, Cairn India, to mining conglomerate Vedanta. Cairn UK was however not allowed to sell a minor stake of about 10 per cent by the income tax authorities. Authorities had also seized Cairn India shares as well as dividends that the company paid to its parent UK firm.

Conclusion:

  • The ruling of the tribunal ordering India to pay $1.4 billion to Cairn Energy is worrisome, not just because of the amount that is owed but also because it hurts the image of India at the global level as an investment destination and cast aspersions over ease of doing business.

Cabinet nod for 100% FDI in DTH service

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved changes in the information & broadcasting (I&B) guidelines to bring them in sync with the existing Foreign Direct Investment.

Details:

  • Apart from increasing the FDI to 100%, several other changes have been made such as the tenure of the license and the license fee.

The issuance of license:

  • The issue of tenure of licenses has been dealt with, the licenses will now be issued for a period of 20 years with a renewal provision after every 10 years. Currently, the DTH licenses are issued for a span of 10 years.
  • The license fee has been revised from 10 per cent of gross revenue (GR) to 8 per cent of adjusted gross revenue (AGR).

Government’s rationale behind the decision:

  • The Government hopes that the change in the policy guidelines will encourage the DTH service providers to invest for more coverage, which could possibly lead to increased operations and higher growth and in this way generate an increased and consistent payment.

DTH service providers welcomed the decision:

  • The provision of a 20-year license period in place of the current 10-year license tenure will lend stability and will be beneficial for players due to the large capital investments that they have made.
  • It also gives DTH the recognition of being an infrastructure intensive sector.

Conclusion:

The amended DTH guidelines along with a longer license period and clarity on renewals, relaxed FDI limits, etc, will pave way for stability, additional investments and employment opportunities.


DEFENCE

Maiden test of MRSAM for Army successful

Context:

  • The inaugural test of the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) for the Indian Army was carried out from the test range at Chandipur in Odisha.

Details:

  • India successfully conducted the first Army version test of the state-of-the-art Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM).
  • The missile has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Missile characteristics

  • Strike range is close to 100 km, the nuclear-capable ballistic missile weighs around 2.7 tonnes and has a length of 4.5 meters and can transport a payload weighing 60 kg.
  • The missile can move with a speed of Mach 2 and has high degrees of manoeuvrability.
  • Apart from the missile, the launching platform includes a Multi-Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MFSTAR) for detection, tracking, and guidance of the missile.

Application

The new generation MRSAM has been developed to subdue airborne threats in the form of jets, missiles and rockets, including projectiles launched simultaneously.

‘Tour of Duty’ recruitment model

Context:

Months after it was first proposed by the Army, India’s defence establishment is actively considering expanding the scope of the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment to the Air Force and Navy as well.

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There are plans to expand the scheme over the next few years to ensure that close to 40 per cent of the strength of the Army is recruited through it.

  1. India’s political leadership is keen on the scheme, given its future potential to generate large-scale employment, and is pushing to working out its modalities.

What is the proposed model?

Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the Short Service Commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years. A large number of SSC officers eventually opt for permanent commission, subject to eligibility.

  1. The Army had, in May, proposed the ‘Tour of Duty’ model of recruitment that would let young individuals voluntarily serve for a temporary period of three years.
  2. It will be a voluntary engagement.
  3. It is for youths who “do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of military professionalism”.
  4. The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service/job in the Armed Forces, towards ‘internship’/temporary experience for three years.

Benefits for the government:

  1. There are immense financial benefits to the organisation due to reduction in pay and gratuity payouts.
  2. The cost of a three-year service per officer will be a fraction of the cost incurred on Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.
  3. The cost incurred on an officer, who leaves after 10 or 14 years, is Rs 5 crore-Rs 6.8 crore, which includes the cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, leave encashment among others. The corresponding cost for a three-year service will be Rs 80 lakh-85 lakh.
  4. SSC officers have the option to join the service permanently, which further increases the cost incurred, including pension bills.
  5. For soldiers, who usually serve for 17 years, the Army has calculated a lifetime savings of Rs 11.5 crore per person, as compared to a three-year service.

Benefits for citizens and the country:

  1. It will help to “channelise the youth energy into positive utilisation of their potential”.
  2. Rigorous military training and habits inculcated will lead to healthy citizenry.
  3. The entire nation will benefit from “trained, disciplined, confident, diligent and committed” young men or women who have done the three-year service.
  4. An “initial survey” has indicated that the corporate sector will prefer to hire such youths rather than fresh graduates.

Need for:

  1. The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasingly steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation.
  2. According to a report of Standing Committee of Defence, 2019, the deficiency in officer cadre of Indian Army stood at approximate 14 per cent.
  3. Advocates of this scheme also cite “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism”, and the fact that “unemployment in our country is a reality”.

MISCELLANEOUS

GST: physical verification of premises is now mandatory

The government has introduced mandatory physical verification of business premises for the purposes of obtaining GST registration.

  1. The move is aimed at controlling the menace of GST fake invoice frauds.
  2. Now there must be in-person verification before registration is granted to an applicant. Further, in case an applicant opts for Aadhaar authentication, he will undergo biometric-based Aadhaar authentication at one of the facilitation Centres notified by the Commissioner.

Kilauea volcano

  1. The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted recently.
  2. Also called Mount Kilauea, the Volcano is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the southeastern part of the island of Hawaii, U.S.A.

International Science Literature Festival – VIGYANIKA

Context:

International Science Literature Festival – VIGYANIKA organized to mark the birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Details:

  • Vigyanika is the International Science Literature Festival being organised under the India International Science Festival.
  • Vigyanika was jointly organised by CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR-NISCAIR), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MOES) and Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) to mark the birth anniversary of eminent Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

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