Daily Current Affairs for UPSC
- Aravalli Range and Hill system
- Angel Tax
- Elephant corridors
- Presidents rule
- Earthquake swarm
1 . Aravalli Range and Hill System
Context : In a stinging attack on the Rajasthan government, the Supreme Court on Monday said the State authorities are hand in glove with illegal miners who operate in the fast-depleting Aravalli region.
About Aravalli Range and hill systemn
- The Aravalli Range is a range of mountains in western India running about 800 km in a northeastern direction across Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
- Aravali means line of peaks. It is also called Mewat hills locally.
- The Aravalli range are the oldest fold mountains in India.
- Guru Peak on Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range
- It gives rise to several rivers, including the Banas, Luni, Sakhi, and Sabarmati.
- Being rich in mineral resources, the Aravalli hills have witnessed years of illegal mining, which have led to their fast erosion in Rajasthan and Haryana.
- This also causes a serious environmental concern as the ranges form a natural barrier against the spread of the Thar desert northwards into the Gangetic plains in the Gangetic basin and Gujarat.
- In May 2009, after months of media and public protests, along with several environmental groups, the Supreme Court banned mining in an area of 448 km2 across Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat districts in Haryana, that was once supposed to be set aside for a national park.
- This comes after the earlier court judgment in 1994 that allowed limited mining on the basis of the sustainable development principle under strict guidelines. Violation of the guidelines by local miners led to the court ban ruling.
- The court had, in October, expressed shock over 31 “vanished” hills or hillocks in the Aravalli area and had asked the State to stop illegal mining in a 115.34-hectare area.
2 . Angel Tax
Context : The government on Monday decided to set up a five-member working committee to look into the angel tax issue and come up with guidelines in one week. It also agreed to implement some key changes requested by start-ups regarding the issue.
Who is Angel investor
- An angel investor is a wealthy individual who provides funding for a startup, often in exchange for an ownership stake in the company.
About Angel Tax
- Angel tax is a term used to refer to the income tax payable on capital raised by unlisted companies via issue of shares where the share price is seen in excess of the fair market value of the shares sold. The excess realisation is treated as income and taxed accordingly.
- The tax was introduced in the 2012 Union Budget by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to arrest laundering of funds.
- It has come to be called angel tax since it largely impacts angel investment in startups
- Start-ups whose aggregate amount of paid-up share capital and share premium after the proposed issue of share does not exceed Rs. 10 crore are eligible for exemption from the tax.
Issues with Angel Tax?
- Valuing startups based on their assets alone, given intangibles such as goodwill is not easy. Nor is it easy to arrive at a ‘fair value’ for them, based on discounted cash flows. So, startups are often valued subjectively and the valuation which seems sky-high to some, may be fair to others.
- Higher valuations when raising funds, are beneficial to founders as it means giving up less equity. But given the closed nature of these deals, there were concerns on whether there was creative financial planning happening. The tax was introduced as an anti-abuse provision in the 2012 Budget to curb attempts to launder undisclosed income. Now, the relaxation could signal the willingness to nurture innovative firms.
- Three, as opposed to the idea of taxing angel investors, investors in countries such as US are actually offered tax benefits when they fund small companies. There are also ways for angel investors to save tax by re-investing gains from one small business into another venture. But in India, there was an element of suspicion over startup investments. Attempts to simplify the tax treatment are hence welcome.
3 . Elephant Corridors
Context : At a time when a recent survey found seven elephant corridors in the country impaired, the Asian Elephant Alliance, an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, has come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.
About Elephant Corridors
- Elephant corridors are linear, narrow, natural habitat linkages that allow elephants to move between secure habitats without being disturbed by humans.
- There are 101 corridors, 28 are located in south India, 25 in central India, 23 in northeastern India, 14 in northern West Bengal and 11 in northwestern India
- Among the States, West Bengal has the highest number of corridors (14), followed by Tamil Nadu with 13 and Uttarakhand with 11
- Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. annually but increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts, experts have found. Maintaining elephant corridors is therefore of crucial importance to both elephant and human habitats.
- Two in every three elephant corridors in the country are now affected by agricultural activities, the study points out, adding that 58.4% corridors fall under settled cultivation and 10.9% under jhum (slash and burn) cultivation.
- National or State Highway passing, Railway level hindering elephant movement further.
Asian Elephant Alliance
- It is an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, has come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.
- The key aim of the alliance is to build 100 habitat corridors across India over the next 10 years, linking up fragmented areas of elephant home ranges and allowing safe passage for India’s elephants. Around half of the world’s wild Asian elephant population is found in India.
- The joint venture is aiming at raising £20 million (Rs. 187.16 crore) to secure the 96 remaining elephant corridors, old and new, in the next ten years.
- The alliance joined hands to raise the mammoth sum as money was the main constraint in securing the land.
4 . President’s Rule
Context : Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the incident “bordered on the failure of constitutional machinery”, senior officials said the situation was not grave enough to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution enabling President’s rule.
What is President’s Rule
- The imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India. Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.
- The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
- Article 356 is inspired by sections 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that if a Governor of a province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the government of the province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the said Act, he could assume to himself all or any of the powers of the government and discharge those functions in his discretion.
- The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.
When can President’s Rule be imposed on a state?
- State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
- Collapse of a Coalition due to disagreements, parting ways within the members
- Serious breakdown law and order
- Elections postponed due to ineludible reasons
- Loss of majority in the state assembly
- Shoot up of insurgency or rebellion
5 . Earthquake Swarm
Context : Dahanu town in Maharashtra’s Palghar district has been hit by some 30 low-intensity earthquakes since November last year, leading to more than 10,000 residents of 40 villages moving out of their homes into tents erected by the district administration and National Disaster Response Force
What is Earthquake Swarm
- Swarm is a series of many (sometimes thousands) low-intensity earthquakes without a discernible main shock that can occur over weeks in active geothermal areas
- In India, sequences of low-intensity quakes are common in areas that have been hit previously, like Saurashtra in Gujarat and Koyna in Maharashtra, but they are also seen in areas without a history of seismic activity