Daily Current Affairs : 2nd September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Adjusted Gross Revenue
  2. NCRB Annual Report
  3. INDRA Navy 2020
  4. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  5. IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Adjusted Gross Revenue


Context: The Supreme Court has allowed telecom companies 10 years’ time to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government.

Background

  • The Supreme Court in its 2019 judgement had asked the telcos to make the repayments of the AGR in three months.
  • The court had concluded that the private telecom sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalised mode of payment by revenue sharing regime. Even after part payment, the dues still run to ₹1.43 lakh crore.
  • The government had proposed in court a 20-year “formula” for telcos to make staggered payments of the dues. The formula was devised after taking into account the financial dent the dues would cause the telecom sector.

Supreme Courts stand on staggered payment formula

  • The Supreme Courts took into consideration the financial stress and the involvement of the banking sector and decided that the period of 20 years fixed for payment is excessive and a period of 10 years has been given to the telcos to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government in “equal yearly instalments”.
  • Payment Schedule : The telecom operators have to make the payment of 10% of the total dues as demanded by Department of Telecom by March 31, 2021. The yearly instalments would commence from April 1, 2021, up to March 31, 2031. The instalments would be paid by March 31 every year.
  • Penalty: The Supreme Court has maintained that even a single default will attract the dues along with interest, penalty and interest on penalty at the rate specified in the agreement.
  • Reassessment: The telcos cannot raise any dispute nor can they ask for a reassessment of the dues.
  • Arrears: To make payment of arrears the managing director/chairman or other authorised officer should give an undertaking within four weeks,
  • Bank guarantees: The telcos have to keep alive the existing bank guarantees they had submitted regarding the spectrum until the payment is made.
  • Compliance should be reported every year on April 7.

What does the AGR ruling mean for telcos?

  • For Bharti Airtel, which faced an AGR payment of Rs 36,000 crore, a payment timeline of 10 year will come as a breather. The company has already paid close to 40 per cent or Rs 14,400 crore AGR dues until now. It still has to pay Rs 21,600 crore in total, of which Rs 2,160 crore will have to be paid by March 31.
  • The remaining amount of Rs 19,440 crore will have to be paid in 10 yearly installments, which comes to roughly Rs 480 crore being shelled out by Bharti Airtel as AGR to the DoT every quarter for the next 40 quarters.
  • For Vodafone Idea, which faces a payment of more than Rs 58,000 crore, the situation is grim as it has paid Rs 7850 crore AGR dues till date. The telco will have to pay nearly Rs 1128.4 crore as AGR dues every quarter for the next 10 years. Both the companies had sought 15 years for making the AGR payment.
  • Tata Teleservices, which had in 2017 sold its consumer mobility businesses to Bharti Airtel, will have to pay its AGR dues of Rs 14,819 crore in total as SC has not allowed any recalculation of dues. The company, therefore will have to effectively pay roughly Rs 333 crore in AGR dues every quarter for the next 40 quarters.

What is AGR?

  • Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.
  • According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.
  • The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.
  • The definition dispute went to the Supreme Court and the verdict effectively upheld the definition of AGR calculation as stipulated by the DoT.

2 . NCRB Annual Report


Context: National Crime Records Bureau has released its annual report recently.

About the Report

  • The National Crime Statistics report published by NCRB consists of Crime in India, Accidental Deaths & Suicides and also Prison Statistics.

Findings of the report

  • The number of suicide cases and accidental deaths registered an increase across the country last year from the 2018 figures
  • The state of Indian prisons has only marginally improved over the last five years, and if demographic break up of inmates is any indicator, Muslims, Dalits and the tribal population is disproportionately subjected to the criminal justice system when compared to upper class Hindu population.

Details of the Report

  • Suicides in the country went up slightly from 1,34,516 to 1,39,123 whereas
    • Of the 97,613 male suicides, the most were of daily wage earners followed by self-employed persons and the unemployed whereas in females, over half were housewives.
    • The suicide rate in cities (13.9%) was higher compared to the all-India average.
    • In the Central Armed Police Forces, a total of 36 personnel died by suicide, 38.9% were due to “family problems”. Five such suicides were reported in Rajasthan, followed by four in Tamil Nadu.
  • Accidental deaths in the country increased by 2.3%.
    • The most casualties of 30.9% were reported in the 30-45 age group, followed by 26% in the 18-30 age group.
    • The major causes were ‘traffic accidents’ (43.9%), ‘sudden deaths’ (11.5%), ‘drowning’ (7.9%), ‘poisoning’ (5.1%), ‘falls’ (5.1%) and ‘accidental fire’ (2.6%). A majority (57.2%) of deaths was in the age groups of 18-45 years.
    • A total of 8,145 deaths was due to the causes attributable to forces of nature, including 35.3% due to lightning, 15.6% by heat/sun stroke and 11.6% deaths in floods.
    • Uttar Pradesh, the most populous State, accounted for 9.6% cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh (10.1%).
  • Prison Statistics
    • Prison statistics shows that the number of Muslims, Dalits, and tribal population incarcerated in jail is disproportionately higher than their numbers outside.
    • The data also shows that Indian jails are largely overcrowded and understaffed. The sanctioned strength of jail-staff was 87,599 while the actual strength was 60,787 as on 31st December, 2019. Almost all prisons across states were filled beyond their capacity
    • Uttar Pradesh has reported the most number of convicts (19.2 percent, 27,612) in the country followed by Madhya Pradesh (14.1 percent, 20,253) and Maharashtra (6.3 percent, 9,096) at the end of 2019.

3 . INDRA Navy 2020


Context: India and Russia are scheduled to hold the bilateral naval exercise, Indra 2020, in the Andaman Sea, close to the strategic Strait of Malacca on September 4 and 5.

About Indra 2020

  • INDRA Navy 2020 is a joint naval exercise conducted by India and Russia.
  • As a part of exercise maritime drills such as gun firing on surface and aerial targets, tracking exercises and replenishment at sea approaches are planned
  • Russian Navy ships Admiral Vinogradov, Admiral Tributs and Boris Butoma along with a fleet of helicopters will be part of the exercise
  • The Indian Navy will deploy Ranvijay (destroyer), Sahyadri (frigate) and Kiltan (corvette) and Shakti (tanker) with integrated helicopters
  • INDRA NAVY-2020, earlier planned in Vladivostok has been postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic situation. Russian Navy has instead proposed conducting a “non-contact, at sea only” Passage Exercise (PASSEX) to maintain the continuity of engagements between the two Navies

Significance

  • The exercise will help to further bolster the operational interoperability in dealing with emerging security challenges
  • The exercise will showcase the level of friendship, trust and interoperability between Indian Navy and the Russian Navy
  • The timing of the exercise coincides with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia for the Shanghai Cooperation organisation (SCO) defence ministers meet and also comes just after India withdrew from the Kavkaz-2020 multinational exercise in Russia scheduled for later this month. 
  • The exercise also is conducted in the backdrop of India – China issue

India-Russia Indra exercises

  • India-Russia (INDRA) Exercises between the Army, Navy and Air Force of the two countries have been held since 2005.
  • Joint Tri-Services Exercises ‘INDRA’ are also being held once in two years since 2017. The last INDRA Tri-Services Exercise was held in India in December 2019.

4 . International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)


Context: The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said that civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for criminal contempt of court by the Supreme Court seemed to be inconsistent with the freedom of expression law guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India was a party to.

ICJ’s opinion on the issue

  • The ICJ has stated that the conviction appears to be inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression and the role of lawyers.
  • The ICJ has stated that a particularly wide scope must be preserved for debate and discussion about such matters as the role of the judiciary, access to justice, and democracy, by members of the public, including through public commentary on the courts.

 International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

  • The ICJ is an international non-governmental organisation which promotes human rights and the rule of law.
  • Composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the International Commission of Jurists promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.
  • Established in 1952 and active on the five continents, the ICJ aims to ensure the progressive development and effective implementation of international human rights and international humanitarian law; secure the realization of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights; safeguard the separation of powers; and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and legal profession.
  • The ICJ has an International Secretariat based in Geneva, which has smaller regional offices in South Africa, Thailand, Nepal and Central America.

5 . IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)


Context: Manufacturing activity re-entered the growth territory in August 2020.

  • The headline seasonally-adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 46 in July to 52 in August.
  • This shows an improvement in operating conditions across the manufacturing sector
  • This has been achieved after four consecutive months of contraction.

Reasons for improvement in manufacturing activity?

  • The growth in manufacturing activity is driven by a rebound in production volumes and new work as an improvement in customer demand following the resumption of business operations has been seen.
  • The growth in manufacturing activity highlights that the sector is moving towards recovery.

Hurdles still remaining in the manufacturing activity

  • Though the manufacturing sector has recovered issues still exist.
  • Despite an expansion in new orders, job shedding has continued in the sector.
  • The demand conditions from abroad has subdued which has affected the foreign imports.
  • The prices of raw materials are on the higher side due to supplier shortages and transportation delays stemming from the pandemic.

What does the PMI index mean?

  • Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is a survey-based economic indicator designed to provide a timely insight into business conditions.
  • The PMI is widely used to anticipate changing economic trends in official data such as GDP, or sometimes as an alternative gauge of economic performance and business conditions to official data, as the latter sometimes suffer from delays in publication, poor availability or data quality issues.
  • The PMI is produced globally by IHS Markit although a small number of trade associations also produce local PMIs in certain markets, such as the ISM in the United States.

What does the Purchasing Managers’ Index measure?

  • The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is a survey-based indicator of business conditions, which includes individual measures (‘sub-indices’) of business output, new orders, employment, costs, selling prices, exports, purchasing activity, supplier performance, backlogs of orders and inventories of both inputs and finished goods, where applicable.
  • The surveys ask respondents to report the change in each variable compared to the prior month, noting whether each has risen/improved, fallen/deteriorated or remained unchanged.
  • These objective questions are accompanied by one subjective ‘sentiment’ question asking companies whether they forecast their output to be higher, the same or lower in a year’s time.
  • Originally compiled for manufacturing, IHS Markit pioneered the extension of coverage to other sectors in the 1990s, including services, construction and retail.
  • The PMI and its sub-indices are widely used to anticipate changing economic trends in official data such as GDP, or sometimes as an alternative gauge of economic performance and business conditions to official data, as the latter sometimes suffer from delays in publication, poor availability or data quality issues.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Index-linked life products?

  • Indexlinked products are insurance products whose returns are linked to benchmark indices.
  • It can be linked to the 10-year government bonds or equity indices such as Sensex or Nifty.

Spot Robot

  • The robot, called Spot, has been developed by Boston Dynamics, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Controlled by a handheld device, it can walk on four legs, similarly to a dog. Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts showed it can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from 2 metres away.
  • On the robot are mounted four cameras — one infrared, three monochrome.
  • The robot measures :
    • BODY TEMPERATURE: The infrared camera measures skin temperature on the face. An algorithm then correlates the facial skin temperature with core body temperature.
    • BREATHING RATE: When a patient wearing a mask breathes, their breath changes the temperature of the mask. The infrared camera measures this temperature change, enabling researchers to calculate the breathing rate.
    • PULSE RATE & OXYGEN LEVEL: When haemoglobin binds to oxygen and flows through blood vessels, it results in slight changes in colour. These changes are measured with the help of the three monochrome cameras, which filter lights of three different wavelengths (670, 810, 880 nanometres). Using these measurements, the algorithm calculates pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation.

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