UPSC CA: 31st October 2020

Public Affairs Index (PAI)-2020

Context: 

  • Recently, the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) has released the Public Affairs Index (PAI)-2020.

Key points:

  • It is largely based on secondary data and has been extracted from Union Government Ministries and Departments.
  • According to the PAC, the governance performance is analysed in the context of sustainable development defined by three pillars of equity, growth and sustainability.
  • It is a data driven platform to rank the 30 States of India from the lens of governance.

Key Highlights of Public Affairs Index-2020:

  • Kerala was adjudged the best-governed state in the country while Uttar Pradesh ended at the bottom in the large states category.
  • The four southern states, namely, Kerala (1.388), Tamil Nadu (0.912), Andhra Pradesh (0.531), and Karnataka (0.468) stood in the first four ranks in the large state category in terms of governance.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar were at the bottom of the ranking, scoring negative points in the category i.e.  -1.461, -1.201 and -1.158 points respectively.
  • In the small state category, Goa ranked first with 1.745 points, followed by Meghalaya (0.797) and Himachal Pradesh (0.725).
  • The worst performers who scored negative points are Manipur (-0.363), Delhi (-0.289) and Uttarakhand (-0.277).
  • Chandigarh emerged the best governed union territory in the category of UTs with 1.05 PAI points, followed by Puducherry (0.52) and Lakshadweep (0.003).
  • Dadar and Nagar Haveli (-0.69), Andaman, Jammu and Kashmir (-0.50) and Nicobar (-0.30) were the least performers.

 

Fifteenth Finance Commission Report Finalised

Context:

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission has finalised its report for fund devolution from the Centre to States for the five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Key details:

  • The panel also had to determine the viability of a separate defence and national security fund.
  • It also had to deliberate on the issue of GST compensation.
  • Although its original remit was to recommend the fund-sharing formula between the Centre and States from 2020-21 to 2024-25, the commission’s term was extended by 11 months.
  • In the initial report that the commission had submitted just for the year 2020-21, it pared the States’ share of the divisible tax pool from 42%, as recommended by the Fourteenth Finance Commission, to 41%, citing the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

About Fifteenth Finance Commission:

  • Finance Commission is a constitutional body for the purpose of allocation of certain revenue resources between the Union and the State Governments.
  • The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution.
  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission was constituted in November 2017, by a Presidential Order against the backdrop of:
    • The abolition of the Planning Commission.
    • Abolition of the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure.
    • Introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
    • It is chaired by N.K. Singh.

 

Manufacturing of Bulk drugs and Medical devices

Context: 

  • Recently Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry has revised the Production Linked Incentive Schemes for promoting domestic manufacturing of bulk drugs and medical devices.

Key points:

  • In the revised guidelines, the ‘Minimum Threshold’ investment requirement has been replaced by ‘committed investment’ taking into account availability of technology choices which varies from product to product.
  • The change has been made to encourage efficient use of productive capital.
  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals earlier come out with the two Production Linked Incentive Schemes:
    • Production Linked Incentive scheme for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials, Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in India.
    • Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Promoting Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Devices.

 

Malabar Naval Exercise

Context: 

  • The first phase of the Malabar Naval exercise including Australia along with Japan and the U.S., is scheduled to be held next week off the Visakhapatnam coast.

Key points:

  • This is the first time Australia will be joining the exercise after 2007.
  • This will bring all four countries of the Quadrilateral grouping together for military games.
  • Phase-1 of Malabar will see participation of:
    • U.S. guided missile destroyer USS John S McCain,
    • Australian long range frigate HMAS Ballarat with integral MH-60 helicopter,
    • Japanese destroyer JS Onami with integral SH-60 helicopter,
  • From Indian Side following fleets will be participating:
    • Destroyer INS Ranvijay,
    • Stealth frigate INS Shivalik,
    • Off-shore patrol vessel INS Sukanya,
    • Fleet support ship INS Shakti
    • Submarine INS Sindhuraj
  • The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED)

Context:

  • The central government has allowed the import of 10 lakh tonnes of potatoes on October 29, 2020 in order to control the rising prices. 

Key points:

  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notified about this decision.
  • The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal further informed that the centre is taking several steps to moderate the rising potato prices.
  • India will now import fresh and chilled potatoes from Bhutan without license. The norm of importing potatoes licenses will be valid up to January 31, 2021. 
  • Earlier, the imports of potatoes were restricted.
  • Import duty on potatoes has also been reduced by the centre to 10% from 30%.
  • The procedure for import of potatoes has also been eased till January 31, 2021 by the DGFT. This has been done by cancelling the need to send hard copies of applications through mail or post.
  • When the applicants are accepted, they will be required to ensure that the import consignments reach the Indian ports on or before January 31, 2021. There will be no request for an extension of time.
  • Apart from that, the centre has also decided to import 25,000 tonnes of onions before Diwali in addition to the 7,000 tonnes of onions that NAFED has already procured through private importers.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED):

  • It is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce.
  • NAFED was founded on October 2, 1958 in order to promote the trade of agricultural produce and forest resources in India. 
  • It has been registered under Multi State Co-operative Societies Act
  • It is one of the largest procurement and marketing agencies for agricultural products. It has been headquartered in New Delhi. 
  • It has four regional offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and  28 zonal offices. NAFED is the nodal agency that implements price stabilization measures under the Operation Greens.