Daily Current Affairs : 1st April 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Foreign Trade Policy
  2. Hue and cry notice
  3. Facts for Prelims

      1 . Foreign trade policy(FTP) 

      Context: Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today launched the Foreign Trade Policy 2023 saying that it is dynamic and has been kept open ended to accommodate the emerging needs of the time.  

      About Foreign Trade Policy 

      • Foreign Trade Policy (2023) is a policy document which is based on continuity of time-tested schemes facilitating exports as well as a document which is nimble and responsive to the requirements of trade. It is based on principles of ‘trust’ and ‘partnership’ with exporters. 
      • It is a set of guidelines and instructions established by the DGFT in matters related to the import and export of goods in India. 

      How this New FTP is different from Old FTP? 

      • The new foreign trade policy shall mark a move from incentives to remission, will focus on export promotion through collaboration with exporters, states, districts, and Indian Missions, will promote ease of doing business and focus on emerging areas like e-commerce and export hubs 
      • In the FTP 2015-20, changes were done subsequent to the initial release even without announcement of a new FTP responding dynamically to the emerging situations. Hereafter, the revisions of the FTP shall be done as and when required.  
      • By incorporating feedback from Trade and Industry would also be continuous to streamline processes and update FTP, from time to time. 
      • Further, the new policy will be shifting from incentives to a remission and entitlement-based regime. 

      What are the Objectives of Foreign Trade Policy 2023? 

      • The FTP 2023 aims at process re-engineering and automation to facilitate ease of doing business for exporters. 
      • It also focuses on emerging areas like dual use high end technology items under SCOMET, facilitating e-commerce export, collaborating with States and Districts for export promotion. 
      • The new FTP is introducing a one-time Amnesty Scheme for exporters to close the old pending authorizations and start afresh.  
      • The FTP 2023 encourages recognition of new towns through “Towns of Export Excellence Scheme” and exporters through “Status Holder Scheme”. 
      • The FTP 2023 is facilitating exports by streamlining the popular Advance Authorization and EPCG schemes and enabling merchanting trade from India. 
      • The FTP benefits have been extended to e-commerce exports, which are estimated to grow to USD 200-300 billion by 2030.  
      • The value limit for exports through courier service is being increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per consignment. 
      • The new FTP also seeks to make the Indian rupee a global currency and allow international trade settlement in the domestic currency. 

      Key components of the policy 

      • The Key Approach to the policy is based on these 4 pillars:  
      • (i) Incentive to Remission,  
      •  (ii) Export promotion through collaboration – Exporters, States, Districts, Indian Missions,  
      • (iii) Ease of doing business, reduction in transaction cost and e-initiatives and 
      • (iv) Emerging Areas – E-Commerce Developing Districts as Export Hubs and streamlining SCOMET policy. 
      1. Process Re-Engineering and Automation 
      • Greater faith is being reposed on exporters through automated IT systems with risk management system for various approvals in the new FTP.  
      • The policy emphasizes export promotion and development, moving away from an incentive regime to a regime which is facilitating, based on technology interface and principles of collaboration.  
      • FTP 2023 codifies implementation mechanisms in a paperless, online environment, building on earlier ‘ease of doing business’ initiatives. 
      •  Reduction in fee structures and IT-based schemes will make it easier for MSMEs and others to access export benefits. 
      1. Towns of Export Excellence 
      • Four new towns, namely Faridabad, Mirzapur, Moradabad, and Varanasi, have been designated as Towns of Export Excellence (TEE) in addition to the existing 39 towns.  
      • The TEEs will have priority access to export promotion funds under the MAI scheme and will be able to avail Common Service Provider (CSP) benefits for export fulfillment under the EPCG Scheme. This addition is expected to boost the exports of handlooms, handicrafts, and carpets. 
      1. Recognition of Exporters 
      • Exporter firms recognized with ‘status’ based on export performance will now be partners in capacity-building initiatives on a best-endeavor basis.  
      • Similar to the ‘each one teach one’ initiative, 2-star and above status holders would be encouraged to provide trade-related training based on a model curriculum to interested individuals. This will help India build a skilled manpower pool capable of servicing a $5 Trillion economy before 2030.  
      1. Promoting export from the districts 
      • The FTP aims at building partnerships with State governments and taking forward the Districts as Export Hubs (DEH) initiative to promote exports at the district level and accelerate the development of grassroots trade ecosystem.  
      • Efforts to identify export worthy products & services and resolve concerns at the district level will be made through an institutional mechanism – State Export Promotion Committee and District Export Promotion Committee at the State and District level, respectively. 
      • District specific export action plans to be prepared for each district outlining the district specific strategy to promote export of identified products and services. 
      1. Streamlining SCOMET Policy 
      • India is placing more emphasis on the “export control” regime as its integration with export control regime countries strengthens. There is a wider outreach and understanding of SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies) among stakeholders, and the policy regime is being made more robust to implement international treaties and agreements entered into by India. 
      • A robust export control system in India would provide access of dual-use High end goods and technologies to Indian exporters while facilitating exports of controlled items/technologies under SCOMET from India. 
      1. Facilitating E-Commerce Exports 
      • The FTP benefits have been extended to e-commerce exports, which are estimated to grow to USD 200-300 billion by 2030.  
      • FTP 2023 outlines the intent and roadmap for establishing e-commerce hubs and related elements such as payment reconciliation, book-keeping, returns policy, and export entitlements.  
      • The comprehensive e-commerce policy addressing the export/import ecosystem would be elaborated soon, based on the recommendations of the working committee on e-commerce exports and inter-ministerial deliberations. 
      • Extensive outreach and training activities will be taken up to build capacity of artisans, weavers, garment manufacturers, gems and jewellery designers to onboard them on E-Commerce platforms and facilitate higher exports. 
      1. Facilitation under Export Promotion of Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme 
      • The EPCG Scheme, which allows import of capital goods at zero Customs duty for export production, is being further rationalized. Some key changes being added are: 
      • Prime Minister Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM MITRA) scheme has been added as an additional scheme eligible to claim benefits under CSP(Common Service Provider) Scheme of Export Promotion capital Goods Scheme(EPCG). 
      • Dairy sector to be exempted from maintaining Average Export Obligation – to support dairy sector to upgrade the technology. 
      • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) of all types, Vertical Farming equipment, Wastewater Treatment and Recycling, Rainwater harvesting system and Rainwater Filters, and Green Hydrogen are added to Green Technology products – will now be eligible for reduced Export Obligation requirement under EPCG Scheme 
      1. Facilitation under Advance authorization Scheme 
      • Advance authorisation Scheme accessed by DTA units provides duty-free import of raw materials for manufacturing export items and is placed at a similar footing to EOU and SEZ Scheme. However, the DTA unit has the flexibility to work both for domestic as well as export production.  
      • Based on interactions with industry and Export Promotion councils, certain facilitation provisions have been added in the present FTP such as 
      • Special Advance Authorisation Scheme extended to export of Apparel and Clothing sector  
      • Benefits of Self-Ratification Scheme for fixation of Input-Output Norms extended to 2 star and above status holders in addition to Authorised Economic Operators at present. 
      1. Merchanting trade 
      • To develop India into a merchanting trade hub, the FTP 2023 has introduced provisions for merchanting trade. 
      •  Merchanting trade of restricted and prohibited items under export policy would now be possible.  
      • Merchanting trade involves shipment of goods from one foreign country to another foreign country without touching Indian ports, involving an Indian intermediary.  
      • This will be subject to compliance with RBI guidelines, andwon’t be applicable for goods/items classified in the CITES and SCOMET list.  

      10. Amnesty Scheme 

      • Finally, the government is strongly committed to reducing litigation and fostering trust-based relationships to help alleviate the issues faced by exporters. 
      •  In line with Vivaad se Vishwaas” initiative, which sought to settle tax disputes amicably, the government is introducing a special one-time Amnesty Scheme under the FTP 2023 to address default on Export Obligations.  
      • This scheme is intended to provide relief to exporters who have been unable to meet their obligations under EPCG and Advance Authorizations, and who are burdened by high duty and interest costs associated with pending cases. 
      • All pending cases of the default in meeting Export Obligation (EO) of authorizations mentioned can be regularized on payment of all customs duties that were exempted in proportion to unfulfilled Export Obligation. 
      • The interest payable is capped at 100% of these exempted duties under this scheme.  However, no interest is payable on the portion of Additional Customs Duty and Special Additional Customs Duty and this is likely to provide relief to exporters as interest burden will come down substantially. 
      • It is hoped that this amnesty will give these exporters a fresh start and an opportunity to come into compliance. 

      2 . Hue and Cry Notice 

      Context: While informing the Punjab and Haryana High Court that despite “best efforts” it has not been able to arrest Amritpal Singh, the Punjab government said Amritsar Rural police has issued a “hue and cry notice” against the fugitive pro-Khalistan preacher. 

      What is Hue and Cry Notice? 

      • A ‘hue and cry’ notice is issued by the state or central authorities when it comes to any fugitive. A hue and cry notice is the process of seeking the help of the public in nabbing a criminal. This means that the public can tip off the police to help them catch a fugitive. 
      • The ‘hue and cry’ rule simply meant that if a suspect or a criminal was running down the street in front of some bystanders, then each of them had to yell to help the police identify and catch them.  
      • The Statute said that “anyone, either a constable or a private citizen, who witnessed a crime shall make hue and cry, and that the hue and cry must be kept up against the fleeing criminal from town to town and from county to county, until the felon is apprehended and delivered to the sheriff”. 
      • The ‘hue and cry’ notices shall not be broadcast indiscriminately, but shall be sent with the utmost despatch to those places, “whether within or outside the jurisdiction of issue,” where special action is required. “ 
      • In cases where a reward is offered, the amount should be stated on the form.  
      • Officers in charge of police stations receiving hue and cry notices shall take immediate action, as the circumstances of each case may indicate to be necessary.  
      • Care shall be taken that, whenever the necessity for action asked for in a hue and cry notice ceases to operate, a notice of cancellation shall be issued to all to whom the original notice was sent. 
      • In current times, police have minimised the use of the term ‘hue and cry’ notice and it is mostly done in cases where it really wants to stress the seriousness of the matter and to create “panic” among the public. However, another advocate said that it was a “legal procedure” which has to be followed to alert other states about the fugitive. 

      History of the Hue and Cry Notice 

      • The phrase ‘hue and cry’ in contemporary terms is often associated with a strong protest or public anger or disapproval on any issue. However, in policing terms, the phrase traces its origin to 1285 when England’s King Edward I signed the “Statute of Winchester” to deal with security and peacekeeping on a local level by revamping the existing police system.  
      • The Statute made it a law stating that “if citizens saw a crime, they not only had to report it, but take up a cry to alert the police.” It said that all able-bodied men, upon hearing the shouts, were obliged to assist in the pursuit of the criminal.  
      • In 13th and 14th centuries, when people in England lived in small-knit communities, this form of “community policing” was quite successful, and it was everyone’s responsibility to help the police. 

      Carrying over colonial past 

      • With several colonial era laws, rules and terms still continuing to be in practise in India even after 75 years of Independence, ‘hue and cry’ has managed to retain its place in policing lexicon. Police rules in several states, including Punjab, have ‘hue and cry notices’ as a legal procedure in their rulebooks.  
      • Police issues a ‘hue and cry notice’ when it requires help of public in cases such as locating missing persons, identifying unclaimed bodies, looking out for a suspect among others. 

      3 . Facts for prelims 

        Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 

        • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a proposed free trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim economies.  
        • The agreement would have lowered tariffs and other trade barriers among Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. 
        • In 2015, Congress gave President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the deal and put it to an up-or-down vote without amendments; all 12 nations signed the agreement in February 2016. 
        •  After taking office, the newly elected President Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from TPP in January 2017, therefore the TPP could not be ratified as required and did not enter into force.  
        • The remaining countries negotiated a new trade agreement called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which incorporates most of the provisions of the TPP and which entered into force on 30 December 2018. 
        • The original TPP contained measures to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade and establish an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. 
        • The TPP began as an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4) signed by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in 2005. Beginning in 2008, additional countries joined the discussion for a broader agreement: Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam, bringing the negotiating countries to twelve. 

        United States Inflation Reduction Act 

        • The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) is a landmark  United States federal law which aims to curb inflation by reducing the deficit, lowering prescription drug prices, and investing into domestic energy production while promoting clean energy.  
        • It was passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 16, 2022. 
        •  It is a budget reconciliation bill sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).  
        • The bill was the result of negotiations on the proposed Build Back Better Act, which was reduced and comprehensively reworked from its initial proposal after being opposed by Manchin. 
        • It was introduced as an amendment to the Build Back Better Act and the legislative text was substituted. 
        • Amongst the objectives set out in the energy sector, the Bill will:  
          • lower energy costs by 500 to 1000 USD per annum  
          • increase investments in climate to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 
          • create employment by investing 60 billion USD for millions of people in the clean energy sector, notably in manufacturing (solar panels, wind turbines, EVs)  
          • 60 billion USD will be allocated specifically to disadvantaged communities to reduce environmental injustice  
          • Around 370 billion USD will be disbursed for measures dedicated to improving energy security and accelerating clean energy transitions.  
          • The IRA also includes funding for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects.   
          • The Act encompasses a Methane Emissions Reduction Program (Sec. 60113) that introduces a charge on methane emitted by oil and gas companies reporting emissions under the Clean Air Act and providing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to finance and provide technical assistance for methane abatement in the oil and gas sector. 
          •  The IRA also introduces Royalties for Produced Methane on Federal Lands and Waters, to be  assessed on all gas produced, including gas that is consumed or lost by venting, flaring or negligent releases during upstream operations. 

        Exemption under RTI 

        • The Right to Information Act included India in the league of nations which provide their citizens the right to seek information from various public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. Recognizing someone’s right to information is to uphold the motto of true democracy. However, the Right to Information Act in India comes with certain exemptions.  
        • The section 24 of the RTI Act, exempts intelligence and security organisations of the country from disclosing information under the RTI act. 
        • The 2nd schedule of the Right to Information Act, 2005 provides a comprehensive list of 26 organisations which are exempted from providing information on the grounds of them being intelligence and security organisations. 
        • The Central government has the authority to amend the 2nd schedule from time to time, thereby adding, removing or substituting organisations present in the said schedule.  
        • The state government has a similar authority and is authorised to exempt an intelligence and security organisation by issuing a notification in the official gazette.  
        • Both the central and the state governments are required to present the said notification before their respective legislatures. 
        • It is to be noted that there is no blanket exemption provided to these intelligence organisations. In other words, these organisations can’t hide behind the purview of section 24 of the RTI Act whenever they receive an RTI application. These organisations are exempted from disclosing information only in case the sought information is of such a nature, that it puts the security of the country at stake. 
        • If an Appellant seeks information from these intelligence organisations, alleging corruption or human rights violation, these organisations are bound to provide such information. However, it is essential that the said allegations are backed by some substantial proof instead of mere surmises and conjectures 

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