A historic announcement by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8th November 2016 - Demonetization of high denomination currency notes of Rs.500 and Rs.1000. Aims to curb the menace of black money, corruption, circulation of fake Indian currency notes, terrorist financing and money laundering. In the longer term to make India’s GDP bigger, cleaner and real with greater formalization of economy.
Gave a major fillip to the digital transactions and unearthing of substantial amounts of black money. 50 lakh new bank accounts opened to enable cashless transaction of wages. 29.17% increase in number of new returns added from FY 2015-16 to FY 2016-17 and 25.1% from FY 16-17 to FY17-18
25% increase in number of e-returns filed from FY 2016-17 to FY 2017-18. 81% increase from FY 2013-14 to FY 2017-18 Value of IMPS transactions increased almost 59% from August 2016 to August 2017, 2.26 Lakh Companies shell companies were struck off, undisclosed income worth Rs. 29,213 crores was detected and admitted and revenues of the ULBs across the country increased.
Income Tax Department (ITD) launched Operation Clean Money (OCM) on 31st January 2017 to leverage technology for e-verification of cash deposits made during the demonetization period i.e. 9th November to 30th December 2016. 20,500 returns selected for scrutiny. About 3 lakh notices issued to non-filers having large cash deposit. 2.1 Crore returns filed.
Special Investigation Team, SIT set up at the First Cabinet Meeting after the NDA Government assumed office
ENABLING LEGISLATIONS & AMENDMENTS Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) – Mauritius, Cyprus, Singapore Bankruptcy Act: ü The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 : Considered as the biggest Economic reforms next only to GST
ü The law is for insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner ü The law promotes entrepreneurship, availability of credit, and balances the interests of all stakeholders
· Benami Property Act · Reshaping of the laws relating to Benami property · Blocking a major avenue for generation and holding of back money in the form of Benami property, especially in real estate · Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015
· Agreement on Real Time Information with Switzerland · Income Disclosure Scheme 2016 · Amendments in Whistle Blower’s Protection Act 2011 · Action for Amendments in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. · New Direct Tax Code also initiated to re-write the Income Tax Act.
2.26 Lakh Companies shell companies were struck off, undisclosed income worth Rs. 29,213 crores was detected and admitted and revenues of the ULBs across the country increased.
DIGITAL PAYMENTS PROMOTION · Mera mobile, mera bank, mera batua: BHIM app (based on United Payments Interface (UPI), to promote cashless economy brings payments to people’s phones. · BHIM Phone Mein, Cash Jeb Mein Campaign to promote use of digital payments.
· Over 2.64 crore BHIM App downloads (As on 31st March,2018) · Transaction worth Rs. 4,972.69 crore (As on 18th April,2018) · 89 Banks Live on BHIM
Transparency and Accountability ● 89 Coal Mines successfully allocated - 31 through e-auction and 58 to Government Companies
● SHAKTI: Transformational policy for auction and allocation of coal linkages for affordable power, access to coal and accountability in allocation of coal
Coal Sector- Governance ● COAL PROJECTS MONITORING PORTAL (E-CPMP) ● MINING SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM (MSS) ● ONLINE COAL CLEARANCES SYSTEM ● CONTRACT LABOUR PAYMENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
ü 435 such schemes have been identified where cash is directly transferred to bank account of the beneficiaries.
ü Total DBT (cumulative) Rs. 3,89,596 crore has been transferred to the beneficiaries.
ü DBT and other governance reforms have led to Estimated savings/ benefits of Rs. 82,985 Cr
· Launched on 9th August 2016 · Allows Government departments and agencies to make direct purchases of up to Rs. 50,000
· To reduce corruption and increase transparency in Government procurement
· 19,497 Buyers organisation listed on GeM Platform (as on 6th April, 2018) · 80,243 Sellers and service providers enrolled (as on 6th April, 2018)
· Bio metric attendance system: Improved work culture in Government offices with emphasis on punctuality
· Abolition of interviews: For recruitment to non-gazetted posts in the Central government as part of efforts to put an end to corruption in jobs.
· Self-certification: Joining of direct recruits in Central Government has been allowed on the basis of self-certification of antecedents and police verification can be done later within 6 months.
· Online Help - Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS): Online public grievance redressal mechanisms for effective and timely redress / settlement of citizens' grievances.
· Rapid Resolution of Public Grievances - 1. Grievance Analysis Study in respect of top 20 Ministries/Departments receiving maximum number of grievances was conducted. Grievance prone areas were identified, route cause analysis was done after which systemic reforms were suggested. Ministries/Departments such as Railways, CBDT etc. have implemented these reforms resulting in reduction of grievances.
2. On an average, more than 90% of pending grievances are resolved every week. 3. A Certificate of Appreciation on quarterly basis is being given to Ministries/Departments for recognizing outstanding Public Grievance Redressal by them. 24 such certificates have since been awarded.
· PM Awards for Excellence in Public Administration- The scope of PM’s awards has been greatly expanded by bringing in wide competition in all districts; including exemplary implementation of priority programmes, innovations by aspirational districts and others as well as those by officials of Government of India at various levels (AS/JS, Director/DS). Discussions on implementation of priority programmes and issues for effective governance were conducted involving officials of line Ministries and experts during the 2 day celebration of Civil Service Day.
· National Conference on e-Governance National Conference on e-governance involving all State Governments and UT Administrations for sensitization and cross learning of e-governance ideas impacting the Citizens and Citizens Centric Service Delivery is being conducted on a yearly basis. National e-Governance Awards have been given to Central Ministries/Departments, States and District level innovation in e-governance.
· MyGov: A ‘Good Governance’ initiative providing opportunity for citizens and well-wishers from across the world to share their views on key issues directly with the PM.
· PRAGATI(Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation): Meetings every 4th Wednesday by the Prime Minister to assess and track the implementation of projects
Key Highlights: The agreements were signed to launch ‘Prakriti’ programme, which aims to promote awareness about forests and environment and stimulate interest among the students of NVS and KVS in maintaining a balanced environment and for acquiring skills that reflect care and protection towards forests, environment and society.
The main objective behind the agreements is to provide a platform for the school children to learn practical skills towards sustainable use of the resources. The two agreements have been signed for a period of 10 years. They aim to make the Indian youth more sensitive towards national and global issues of environment and thus, help them become responsible citizens.
The agreements also aim to mobilise a cadre of youth for raising a peoples’ movement, which is committed to the conservation of forest and environment. The collaboration will enable transfer of knowledge to students and teachers of NVS and KVS on environment, forest, environmental services and contemporary areas of forestry research through lectures and interactive sessions by ICFRE scientists.
About ICFRE: The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous council under the Union Environment Ministry. The council mainly guides, promotes and coordinates forestry research, extension and education at the national level through its nine institutes and five centres located across the country.
Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS): The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is an autonomous organisation established under the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The organisation was established to provide modern quality education to talented children, predominantly from rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.
Background: India was for the first time, in April, placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies along with five other countries — China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland.
Recent developments: India’s circumstances have shifted markedly, as the central bank’s net sales of foreign exchange over the first six months of 2018 led net purchases over the four quarters through June 2018 to fall to $4 billion, or 0.2% of GDP.
This represented a notable change from 2017, when purchases over the first three quarters of the year pushed net purchases of foreign exchange above 2% of GDP. Recent sales came amid a turnaround in foreign portfolio inflows, as foreign investors pulled portfolio capital out of India (and many other emerging markets) over the first half of the year.
The rupee depreciated by around 7% against the dollar and by more than 4% on a real effective basis in the first half of 2018. India has a significant bilateral goods trade surplus with the US, totalling $23 billion over the four quarters through June 2018, but India’s current account is in deficit at 1.9% of GDP.
On what basis is a country named a ‘currency manipulator’? The three pre-conditions for being named currency manipulator are: a trade surplus of over $20 billion with the US, a current account deficit surplus of 3% of the GDP, and persistent foreign exchange purchases of 2% plus of the GDP over 12 months.
Key facts: Chinese scientists plan to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years, and the moons — made from reflective material like a mirror — are expected to orbit at 500 kilometres above the Earth and light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres.
The artificial moon will have a reflective coating that can deflect sunlight back to Earth, similar to how the moon shines.
The illuminated satellite is said to be eight times brighter than the real moon. The satellites’ brightness and service time are both adjustable, and the accuracy of the lighting can be controlled within tens of metres.
The three artificial moons would operate alternately in order to significantly reduce infrastructural electricity consumption, especially during winter. The illuminated satellite is designed to complement the moon at night.
Lighting from the artificial moon covering 50 square kilometres in Chengdu could save about 1.2 billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs every year. It could also be used to light up areas experiencing power outages caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Background: The idea for the man-made moon originated from a French artist who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors in the sky to light up the streets of Paris at night. Russia attempted to launch a 25-metre “space mirror” but the project was put off in 1999.
Dawn’s mission was extended several times, outperforming scientists’ expectations in its exploration of two planet-like bodies, Ceres and Vesta, that make up 45 percent of the mass of the main asteroid belt.
Now the spacecraft is about to run out of a key fuel, hydrazine. When that happens, most likely between mid-September and mid-October, Dawn will lose its ability to communicate with Earth. It will remain in a silent orbit around Ceres for decades.
Dawn mission: NASA’s Dawn mission was aimed at studying the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system. The mission characterized the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation.
Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.
Key facts: The famous Shahi litchi, which is famous for its sweet, juicy, unique flavour and aroma, is mostly grown in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts including East Champaran, Vaishali, Samastipur and Begusarai. The GI registration was done in the name of Litchi Growers Association of Bihar, which had applied for the tag.
Significance: Bihar produces 40% of the litchi grown in the country on 38% of the area. The GI tag to Shahi litchi will boost up its demand in the market and will minimise the fear of fake and poor quality litchis. The GI tag for the fruit will help and benefit thousands of litchi growers who will gain access to more markets and get better price in the country and abroad.
About GI tag: What is it? A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Significance of a GI tag: Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Security: Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
Provisions in this regard: GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property. At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.
Facts for Prelims: Other GI tags associated with Bihar: Katrani rice, Jardalu mango and Magahi paan (betel vine).
Prime Minister reviewed the activities of NDMA to effectively manage and respond to disasters affecting the country. He also reviewed ongoing projects undertaken by NDMA.
Prime Minister emphasized on the need for better coordination between the various stakeholders and undertake more joint exercises to bring about effective response to save life and property. He stressed upon the need to bring in global expertise in the field of disaster management.
About NDMA: On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.
NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:
Lay down policies on disaster management. Approve the National Plan. Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan.
Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects.
Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management. Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation. Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government.
Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary. Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.
Significance: There was no institutional framework for disaster management earlier, but after the setting up of NDMA, a mechanism has been developed not only for disaster management, but also for disaster risk reduction.
India got appreciation due to NDMA’s work at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting on Disaster management held in Kyrgyzstan last month. India had extended help to earthquake-hit Nepal in 2014 and also India had sent NDRF team to Japan for help.
Its time to further strengthen the legal and institutional systems in place for disaster management.
Aim: The exercise is aimed at developing mutual understanding and respect between militaries of both countries, as also facilitate in tracking worldwide phenomenon of terrorism.
NCR RASTA (Railway assets Summerised Tracking Application): It is for use of railway officers and staff and has exact mapping of all railway assets. It will enable railway staff to reach desired asset using Google Navigation in case of any emergency.
Yatri RASTA (Railway Approach to Station Tracking Application): Yatri RASTA app: It will allow general public to locate railway stations easily. It is already available for smartphones running on Android and can be downloaded free of cost from Google Play Store.
India’s first railway station inside tunnel to come up in Himachal Pradesh: Context: For the first time in India, a railway station will be built inside a tunnel at a height of 3,000 metres, on the strategic Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line close to the China-India border.
The station will be at a height of around 3,000 metres and will be inside a 27-km-long tunnel. Keylong is the administrative centre of Lahaul and Spiti district, 26 km north of Manali and 120 km from the India-Tibet border