August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (30-08-19)

FDI POLICY REFORM: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Related Topics: Foreign Investment, Ease of Doing Business

News

  • Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the proposal for Review of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on various sectors.
  • The reform includes easing rules for overseas single-brand stores and permitting FDI through the automatic route in contract manufacturing and all areas of coal mining.

Reform at a glance

[Image Courtesy: Livemint]

Key Highlights

A. Coal Mining

  • As per the present FDI policy, 100% FDI under automatic route is allowed for coal & lignite mining for captive consumption by power projects, iron & steel and cement units and other eligible activities permitted under and subject to applicable laws and regulations.
  • Present policy also permits 100% FDI under automatic route for setting up coal processing plants like washeries subject to certain conditions.
  • Now, it has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route for sale of coal, for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure.

B. Contract Manufacturing

  • Present FDI policy provides for 100% FDI under automatic route in manufacturing sector.
  • There is no specific provision for Contract Manufacturing in the Policy.
  • In order to provide clarity on contract manufacturing, it has been decided to allow 100% FDI under automatic route in contract manufacturing.
  • The reform will allow large foreign electronics and pharmaceutical companies to directly invest in local or foreign contract manufacturers.

C. Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT)

  • Present FDI Policy provides that 30% of value of goods has to be procured from India if SBRT entity has FDI more than 51%.
  • It has been decided that all procurements made from India by the SBRT entity for that single brand shall be counted towards local sourcing, irrespective of whether the goods procured are sold in India or exported.
  • The current cap of considering exports for 5 years only is proposed to be removed, to give an impetus to exports.
  • Present policy provides that only that part of the global sourcing shall be counted towards local sourcing requirement which is over and above the previous year’s value.
  • It has been now decided that entire sourcing from India for global operations shall be considered towards local sourcing requirement. (not incremental value)
  • Present policy requires that SBRT entities have to operate through brick and mortar stores before starting retail trading of that brand through e-commerce.
  • This creates an artificial restriction and is out of sync with current market practices.
  • It has been decided that retail trading through online trade can also be undertaken prior to opening of brick and mortar stores, subject to the condition that the entity opens brick and mortar stores within 2 years from date of start of online retail.

D. Digital Media

  • Existing FDI policy provides for 49% FDI under approval route in Up-linking of ‘News &Current Affairs’ TV Channels.
  • It has been decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/ streaming of News & Current Affairs through Digital Media, on the lines of print media.

Major Impact and Benefits

  • Reforms in coal sector will attract international players to create an efficient and competitive coal market.
  • FDI now being permitted under automatic route in contract manufacturing will be a big boost to Manufacturing sector in India.
  • It will allow large foreign electronics and pharmaceutical companies to directly invest in local or foreign contract manufacturers.
  • Easing local sourcing norms for FDI in Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT) will lead to greater flexibility and ease of operations for SBRT entities, besides creating a level playing field for companies with higher exports in a base year.
  • Permitting online sales prior to opening of brick and mortar stores brings policy in sync with current market practices.
  • Online sales will also lead to creation of jobs in logistics, digital payments, customer care, training and product skilling.
  • The reforms are meant to liberalize and simplify the FDI policy to provide ease of doing business in the country, leading to larger FDI inflows and thereby contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.

Background

  • FDI is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country.
  • FDI policy provisions have been progressively liberalized across various sectors in recent years to make India an attractive investment destination.
  • As per UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019, global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows slid by 13% in 2018, to US $1.3 trillion from US $1.5 trillion.
  • Despite the dim global picture, India continues to remain a preferred and attractive destination for global FDI flows.
  • In Union Budget 2019-20, Finance Minister proposed to further consolidate the gains under FDI in order to make India a more attractive FDI destination.

Practice Question

“Liberalizing the FDI policy will enhance the ease of doing business in the country, thereby contributing to growth of investment, income and employment. Explain”

[Sources: PIB, Livemint, Investopedia]

 

FIT INDIA MOVEMENT

Related Topics: Public Health, Government Schemes and Initiatives

News

  • Prime Minister has launched a nation-wide Fit India Movement and urged people to become more aware of health and good life.
  • The movement was launched on the National Sports Day (Aug 29), the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyanchand.

About the Movement

  • It aims to encourage people to inculcate physical activity and sports in their everyday lives.
  • It is a “people’s movement” for promoting fitness.
  • Sports has a direct relation to fitness but ‘Fit India Movement’ aims to go beyond fitness.
  • A healthy Individual, a healthy family and a healthy society are the essentials to make New India a Fit India.

Need for the Movement

  • Success is related to fitness, success stories of icons from any field of life have a common thread — most of them are fit, have a focus on fitness and are fond of fitness.
  • Fitness is not just a word but an essential pillar to a healthy and prosperous life.
  • Technology had reduced people’s physical ability and robbed their daily fitness routines.
  • Today lifestyle diseases are on the rise in India affecting even the young.
  • Cases of diabetes and hypertension are on the rise and even common among children in India.
  • But small lifestyle changes can prevent these lifestyle diseases.
  • Fit India Movement is an effort to bring these small lifestyle changes.
[Source: PIB]

 

COMPENSATORY AFFORESTATION FUND (CAF)

Related Topics: Environment, CAF Act 2016

Why in News

  • Union Environment Ministry has transferred ₹47,436 crore to 27 States for afforestation.
  • These are long-pending dues, part of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF).

What is CAF?

  • CAF is a ₹54,000 crore tranche that has been collected as environmental compensation from industry, which has razed forest land for its business plans.
  • The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAF), 2016 has a provision to collect funds from user agencies—any person, organisation, company or department of the central or state government making a request for diversion or de-notification of forest land for non-forest purposes.

Economic Value

  • The amount to be paid by industry depends on the economic value of the goods and services that the razed forest would have provided.
  • These include timber, bamboo, firewood, carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water recharge, and seed dispersal.
  • Industrialists pay this money and this is eventually transferred to the States concerned to carry out afforestation.

Reason for Delay in Transfer

Only a fraction of this corpus had actually been disbursed to States, due to the lack of a legal framework and instances of States using it for non-forestry purposes.

CAMPA

  • The CAF Act 2016, which came into being more than a decade since it was devised, established an independent authority called Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to execute the fund.
  • Centre would use geographic tagging technology to keep a tab on whether States were using their allotted funds appropriately.

How CAF will be used?

  • The Fund will be used as per provisions of the CAF Act and Rules.
  • The fund will be used for “compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value, catchment area treatment plan or any money for compliance of conditions stipulated by the Central Government while according approval under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
  • It cannot be used for payment of salary, travelling allowances, making buildings and buying office equipment for forest officers.

Share of States

  • Odisha, the top recipient of funds, got nearly ₹6,000 crore followed by Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh with ₹5,791 crore and ₹5,196 crore respectively.
  • Kerala got the least with ₹81.59 crore.

Impact

  • It is expected that all State Governments will utilize this fund for the enhancement of forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • The objective of the NDCs is to increase its forest and tree cover.
  • This will help in an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2030.

Background

  • The idea of compensatory afforestation, which essentially means planting trees to compensate for undertaking an activity that leads to deforestation, has its roots in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
  • The ad hoc CAMPA body was created by the order of the Supreme Court on July 10, 2009.
  • It was created as National Advisory Council under the chairmanship of the environment minister for monitoring, technical assistance and evaluation of compensatory afforestation activities.
  • Till 2016, when the CAF Act was finally passed by the Parliament, compensatory afforestion and the fund collection was happening under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund guidelines released by MoEF in 2009.
[Source: The Hindu, Down To Earth]

 

NEW SPECIES OF EEL DISCOVERED

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity,

News

Two new species of marine eel were discovered and documented by Estuarine Biology Regional Centre (EBRC) of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) at Gopalpur-on-sea in Odisha.

New Species

‘Gymnothorax andamanensesis’

  • It is a short brown un-patterned moray eel.
  • Two specimens of this eel were caught at 2-metre deep waters in the south Andaman coast.
  • Till now, 10 species of short brown unpatterned moray eels have been discovered in the world, out of which two were found in Indian waters.
  • With this new discovery, the number of short brown un-patterned moray eels discovered from the Indian coast has increased to three.

‘Gymnothorax smithi’

  • It is a white-spotted moray eel.
  • Its first specimen was found from the 200-metres deep waters of the Arabian Sea in 2011.
  • Recently, a few more specimens of this undiscovered species were collected from the southeastern Arabian Sea, off the Kerala coast.

Marine Eels

  • They are mostly found in shallow waters but some of them live offshore in sandy or clayey bottoms ranging up to 500 metres.
  • Till now, 49 species of moray eel from 10 genera had been reported from Indian waters, and their species numbers have increased to 50 with the new addition.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS

United Nations observes International Day Against Nuclear Tests on 29 August every year. The day is observed with an aim to raise awareness about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.

ANGIKAAR CAMPAIGN

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has launched the Angikaar campaign. It aims for social behaviour change, focusing on issues such as water & energy conservation, waste management, health, tree plantation and sanitation & hygiene for beneficiaries of completed houses under PMAY (U). For this purpose, the campaign will converge with schemes and Missions of other Ministries dealing with these subjects. The convergence would especially focus on Ujjwala for gas connection and Ayushman Bharat for health insurance to the beneficiaries of PMAY (U).

E-COURSE ON VULNERABILITY ATLAS OF INDIA

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has launched e-Course on Vulnerability Atlas of India. It is offered by the Ministry in collaboration of School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC). It is a unique course that offers awareness and understanding about natural hazards, helps identify regions with high vulnerability with respect to various hazards (earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, floods, etc.) and specifies district-wise level of damage risks to the existing housing stock.

COPROLITE

A team of scientists from Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research studied a prehistoric puma’s coprolite taken from a rock-shelter in Catamarca province. With the help of carbon dating, they were able to estimate the age of the coprolite at between 16,500-17,000 years. This led to the identification of the oldest parasite DNA ever recorded. Coprolites are fossilised faeces belonging to animals that lived millions of years ago.

 

 

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