Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 8 February 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 8 February 2018


88 mining leases in Goa squashed: SC

  • The Supreme Court quashed all 88 mining leases renewed by the BJP government in Goa in 2015 to “benefit private mining leaseholders.”
  • The 102-page judgment of the apex court noted how these leases were hastily renewed by the State in 2014 with retrospective effect from 2007, just before an amended Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act made auction of leases mandatory for mining notified minerals like iron ore.
  • The judgment by a Bench led by Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta traced the “rapacious and rampant exploitation” of Goa’s fragile ecology by private mining lease holders, whose sole motive is to make profits, for years.
  • “The primary beneficiary was, of course, the mining lease holder, a private entity, and the price was paid by the average Goan who had to suffer a polluted environment and witness the damage to the State’s ecology,” the Supreme Court said, summing up Goa's mineral policy.
  • The judgment narrated the role played by the Goa government in the loot of natural resources. It said the State gave private entrepreneurs mining leases “virtually for a song.”
  • “The State sacrificed maximising revenue for no apparent positive reason, virtually surrendering itself to the commercial and profit-making motives of private entrepreneurs and ignoring the interests of Goan society in general,” Justice Lokur, who authored the judgment, for the Bench wrote.
  • The court found that some private miners owed the State “staggering” sums of up to Rs. 1,500 crore “towards value of ore extracted in excess of the environmental clearance.”
  • The State government, the court held, had made no “serious attempts to recover such huge amounts.”
  • The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests also “played ball” by giving environment clearances to 72 of these mining leases, the court observed.
  • “There was not a single environment related or mining related law or legal requirement that was not violated by one or the other mining lease holder.
  • Quite clearly, the rule of environmental law in Goa had gone with the wind,” the apex court quoted from the Centre’s own Vishwanath Anand Environment Appraisal Committee set up in 2013 to probe mining illegalities.

CCEA approvals

  • The Union Cabinet approved the increase in the target for the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, meant to provide cooking-gas connections to rural women, to eight crore from the earlier five crore.
  • The deadline for achieving the target is 2020. The Cabinet also approved an additional allocation for the scheme of Rs. 4,800 crore. The meeting took a slew of decisions across sectors
    a) increasing the minimum support price for copra,
    b) extending the Discovered Small Fields Policy to include more oil and gas fields,
    c) approving several bilateral agreements signed by India,
    d) and giving ex post facto approval to the changes made in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill.
  • “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for increase in the minimum support price for fair average quality (FAQ) of ‘milling copra’ to Rs. 7,500 a quintal for 2018 season from Rs. 6,500 per quintal in 2017,” the government said in a press statement.
  • “The MSP for FAQ of ‘ball copra’ has been increased to Rs. 7,750 per quintal for the 2018 season from Rs. 6,785 per quintal in 2017.”
  • “The Union Cabinet has approved the incorporation of the official amendments to the Major Port Authorities Bill 2016, which is pending in Parliament,” another release said.
  • “The Cabinet has given its approval for extending the Discovered Small Field Policy notified on October 14, 2015 to identified 60 discovered small fields/un-monetised discoveries for offer under the Discovered Small Field Policy Bid Round-ll,” the government added.
  • “Out of these, 22 fields/discoveries belong to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Limited, five belong to Oil India Limited (OIL) and 12 are relinquished fields/discoveries from the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) blocks.”

UP pledge on Tobacco

  • A few days after the World Cancer Day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has committed himself to controlling tobacco in the State by signing a strongly-worded pledge.
  • Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for one-fourth of the 10,00,000 new cancer cases seen every year in India.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the largest contributor of cancer cases in India. Nearly half of all cancers in the State are caused by tobacco.
  • Uttar Pradesh accounts for the most number of mouth cancer in men in the country and 4/5th in women.
  • Gutka and pan masala (which are used as chewing tobacco) originated in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Chewing tobacco originated in the State and it has to first end here.
  • The specifics to end the tobacco menace have to be worked out with different ministries.
  • The Tata Memorial Hospital is setting up a 500-bed cancer centre at Varanasi. And the State government is setting up a State Cancer Institute at Lucknow.
  • Since 50% of cancer cases in Uttar Pradesh are attributable to tobacco, the Tata Memorial Centre doctors are trying to reduce tobacco usage to address the source of the problem.
  • Getting the Chief Minister to sign the pledge is an important step in that direction.
  • The pledge reads: “The high consumption of tobacco products in India is very alarming. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017, nearly 28% of adults in India use tobacco in some form. And one-third of these will die early due to tobacco related diseases.

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5 Taxes on capital hinder investments: Urjit Patel

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel expressed concern over the government’s move to impose long-term capital gains tax on equities.
  • He stressed that India’s investment to GDP ratio was not adequate and the fact that capital in the country was taxed at five different stages, hindered investments.
  • The Budget had brought back the long-term capital gains tax which disappointed investors.
  • “...we need to keep in mind the taxation on capital in India is from several sources and I think, at the marginal rate, it adds up … so from back of the envelope, you have a corporate tax rate, you have a dividend distribution tax rate, for dividend income above Rs. 10 lakh you have the marginal tax rate, you have a securities transaction tax and a capital gains tax.
  • So, you have five taxes on capital. And you know that would have an impact on investment and savings decision.
  • The Budget proposed that long-term investment gains of more than Rs. 1 lakh, beginning February 1, 2018 would attract long-term capital gains tax at 10%.
  • The Economic Survey, released last week, also pointed out that the overall savings and investment rate scenario in the economy was not ‘heartening’.
  • According to the survey, while investment rate as a share of GDP in the economy declined by almost 5.6 percentage points between 2011-12 and 2015-16, savings rate declined by two and half percentage points between 2011-12 and 2013-14 and remained range-bound thereafter.
  • “India’s investment, savings slowdown is unusual, never happened like this before,” said Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser.
  • The ratio of gross fixed capital formation to GDP rose from 26.5% in 2003, reached a peak of 35.6% in 2007 and then, slid to 26.4% in 2017.
  • Dr. Patel said the country should expect its investment to GDP ratio to improve as there were early signs that credit growth was picking up.
  • Year-on-year credit growth was 10.6% in January as compared with 4.7% a year ago.

EV in spotlight for auto expo

  • Electric vehicles stole the limelight at the Auto Expo this year, with almost all automakers unveiling a slew of vehicles that are likely to hit the Indian roads over the next two to three years.
  • However, the industry still sees the government’s proposal to move to 100% electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 as a “big challenge” amid lack of charging infrastructure and clear policy norms, besides the high prices of EVs.
  • More than half of the 65 vehicles unveiled at the exposition this year were EVs and hybrid concepts put up by car manufacturers.
  • Maruti Suzuki, which aims to roll out an EV in 2020, showcased e-Survivor.
  • Honda earlier unveiled its Sports EV concept and NeuV EV concept.
  • Considering India’s expanse, it would take time to establish charging a network.
  • India a price-sensitive market and EVs currently cost at least twice as much as a comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) model.
  • There also needs to be a testing facility to test the road-worthiness… a mechanism needs to be worked out to safely dispose or recycle the battery after its life is over.
  • Hyundai plans to get ahead of Maruti by introducing its EV in 2019.
  • EV growth in the country was inevitable in future but what was needed at present was greater clarity from the government in terms of policies and infrastructure, said Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and MD, Renault India Operations.
  • Renault showcased several cars, including TREZOR, an all-electric Grand Tourer concept car.
  • Globally many countries have fixed targets for completely doing away with fossil fuel vehicles.
  • The U.K. has announced a ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting 2040.
  • By 2050, all cars on the country’s road will have zero emissions.
  • Paris has also planned to do away with petrol and diesel-fuelled cars, while China plans to cap its automobile carbon emissions by 2030.

180 days more to borrowers: RBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), whose cash flow was hit due to implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST), additional time to pay their dues to banks and non-banking finance companies.
  • MSMEs with exposure of less than Rs. 25 crore, would get additional 180 days to pay their dues, provided the borrower is registered under the GST regime and the borrower account was standard as on August 31, 2017.
  • “The amount from the borrower overdue as on September 1, 2017 and payments from the borrower due between September 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018 are paid not later than 180 days from their respective original due dates,” RBI said, stipulating a condition.
  • At present, banks and NBFCs classify a loan account as non-performing asset (NPA) if payment is due for more than 90 days and 120 days respectively.
  • “The provision in respect of the account may be reversed as and when no amount is overdue beyond the 90/120-day norm,” the banking regulator said.