27th April 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
27th April Current Affairs MCQs
Context: The government has decided to exempt basics customs duty on import of COVID-19 vaccines and the basic customs duty and health cess on import of medical grade oxygen and other equipment related to providing oxygen to patients for three months.
More about custom duty
- Customs Duty is a tax levied on the transportation of goods across international borders. It is a type of indirect tax levied by the government on goods imports and exports.
- Companies in the export-import business must follow these regulations and pay the required customs duty.
- To put it another way, customs duty is a type of fee collected by customs authorities for the movement of goods and services into and out of a country.
- The tax levied on goods imported into the country is known as import duty, whereas the tax levied on goods exported to another country is known as export duty.
- The primary goal of customs duty is to generate revenue, protect domestic businesses, jobs, the environment, and industries, among other things, from predatory competitors from other countries.
- Furthermore, it aids in the reduction of fraudulent activities and the circulation of black money.
- Customs duty is calculated using a variety of factors, including the following:
- The location of the product’s acquisition.
- The location where the goods were created.
- The product’s material.
- The product’s weight and dimensions.
- Furthermore, if a person is bringing a product into India for the first time, she or he must declare it in accordance with customs regulations.
- Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems (HS)
- The Harmonized System is an international nomenclature for product classification. It enables participating countries to classify traded goods for customs purposes on a common basis.
- The Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods at the international level is a six-digit code system. The Harmonized System was introduced in 1988 and has since been adopted by the majority of the world’s countries.
India’s Customs Duty
- India has a well-developed tax system. The Indian tax system is primarily a three-tiered system based on the Central Government, State Governments, and local government organizations. In India, customs duty is governed by the Customs Act of 1962 and the Customs Tariff Act of 1975.
- The tariff system in India is based on the Customs Co-operation Council’s Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN).
- It also follows the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), which uses eight-digit codes for statistical purposes, and the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), which has expanded the eight-digit DGCI&S codes to ten digits.
Border Security Force (BSF)
Relevance: Internal security
Context: The BSF has said it detected two drones crossing the International Border (IB) from the Pakistani side and “foiled the intrusion bid” in Jammu’s Arnia Sector.
More about BSF
- The Border Guarding Force of India (BSF) is an Indian border guarding force.
- It is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Other Central Armed Police Forces are Assam Rifles (AR), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), National Security Guards (NSG), and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
- It is a paramilitary force tasked with guarding India’s land borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was established on December 1, 1965.
- There is an air wing, a marine wing, an artillery regiment, and commando units in the BSF. It is currently the world’s largest border patrol force.
- The Border Security Force (BSF) has been referred to as India’s “First Line of Defense.”
- With its cutting-edge fleet of watercraft, the BSF has been defending Sir Creek in the Arabian Sea and the Sundarbans delta in the Bay of Bengal.
- The BSF plays an important role in assisting the state administration in maintaining law and order and conducting peaceful elections.
- BSF has been crusading against natural disasters to save precious human lives when necessary.
- Every year, it contributes dedicated services to the UN peacekeeping mission by sending a large contingent of trained personnel.
U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) of the coronavirus
Relevance: Science and technology
Context: U.K. variant more prevalent in north India Super spreader events in Punjab amplified the infectious mutant strain, say experts.
More about the News:
- The U.K. variant of the coronavirus, marked by increased infectivity, is distinctly more prevalent in several northern and central Indian States when compared with the southern states.
- Punjab has a very unique trajectory in the rise of the 1.1.7. There were at least four major clusters (super spreader events) marriages, farmer protests from February 1 to February 28, that are responsible for large spikes.
What is the variant first detected in the UK?
- It is known as B.1.1.7 or VOC 202012/01, it first emerged in the UK last December.
- In the B.1.1.7 variant are multiple mutations in the spike protein.
- One mutation, called N501Y, makes the variant more effective at binding to the ACE2 receptor (the human protein that serves as the entry point for the coronavirus).
- Other significant spike protein mutations are D614G, A570D, P681H, H69/V70 deletion, and Y144 deletion.
What is the variant from South Africa?
- First detected in South Africa last October 2020, it is called 501Y.V2 or B1.351.
- This one is defined by nine changes in the spike protein in comparison to the reference — the “Wuhan-1 D614G spike mutant”.
- Concerns associated with it are that the spike mutations could lead to antigenic changes that are detrimental to monoclonal antibody therapies and vaccine protection.
What is the variant from Brazil?
- This is called P.1, a branch of the B.1.1.28 lineage.
- Public Health England has designated this too as a variant of concern as it shares some mutations with the South Africa variant, such as E484K and N501Y.
Context: Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip after repeated salvos of rocket fire into Israel’s territory.
More about Gaza Strip
- It is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the east and north border.
- Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by the de jure sovereign State of Palestine.
- Israeli territory separates the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank.
- Both fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, but the strip has been governed by Hamas since the Battle of Gaza in June 2007, a Palestinian fundamentalist militant Islamic organization that came to power in free elections in 2006.
- Since then, it has been subjected to an international economic and political boycott led by Israel and the United States.
- Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% the 13th highest in the world and is often referred to as overcrowded. The population is expected to increase to 5 million in 2030.
- In 2012, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in the occupied Palestinian territory warned that the Gaza Strip might not be a “liveable place” by 2020 and as of 2020, Gaza suffered shortages of water, medicine, and power, a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
- Due to the Israeli and Egyptian border closures and the Israeli sea and air blockade, the population is not free to leave or enter the Gaza Strip, nor allowed to freely import or export goods.
- Sunni Muslims makes up the predominant part of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.
Vivad Se Vishwas scheme
Relevance: Government schemes
Context: Govt extends the deadline for making payment under Vivad Se Vishwas scheme till June 30.
More about Vivad Se Vishwas scheme
- On March 17, 2020, the Direct Tax ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ Act, 2020 was enacted with the aim of reducing pending income tax litigation, generating timely revenue for the government, and benefiting taxpayers.
- The scheme aims to end direct tax litigation and legacy disputes, as approximately 4.8 lakh appeals pending at various income tax appellate courts have blocked $9.32 lakh crore in revenue.
- Entities who opt for the scheme must pay a fee, after which the tax department will close all lawsuits against them and penal proceedings will be withdrawn.
The Scheme’s Importance:
- It’s worth noting that the scheme’s response is noteworthy, considering that previous schemes like the Kar Vivad Samadhan Scheme (KVSS) and the Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme (DTDRS) failed to produce significant results.
- Appellant’s Immunity: Until a dispute has been settled, the appointed authority cannot impose interest or penalties in connection with that dispute.
- Furthermore, after a dispute has been settled, no appeal forum will make a judgment on it.
- Revival of Disputes: A case of dispute may be resurrected if an appellant presents false information or breaches the Income Tax Act of 1961.
PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)
Relevance: Government schemes
Context: The PM CARES Fund has approved the allocation of funds for setting up 551 Pressure Swing Adsorption medical oxygen generation plants at public health facilities across the country.
More about the News
- The Fund had earlier this year allocated ₹201.58 crores for the installation of 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption medical oxygen generation plants.
- The aim is to set up an oxygen plant in all districts with government hospitals.
- The plants will come up in selected government hospitals in district headquarters and the procurement would be done via the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
More about the Fund
- The Prime Minister serves as Chairman of the Fund, which is a public charitable trust. Other members include the Defence Minister, the Home Minister, and the Finance Minister.
- As a result of the Fund’s ability to accept micro-donations, a large number of people will be able to contribute in even the smallest denominations.
- The Fund will improve disaster management capabilities and promote citizen protection research.
- Companies’ contributions to the PM-CARES Fund will be counted as mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure, according to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
- Companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore, a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or a net profit of Rs 5 crore are required by the Companies Act, 2013, to spend at least 2% of their average profit over the previous three years on CSR activities each year.
- In general, the term “Corporate Social Responsibility” refers to a corporate initiative to assess and accept responsibility for the company’s environmental and social impact.
A similar fund also exists: The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)
- This fund was established in 1948 by then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to assist Pakistani refugees. Currently, the fund is mainly used to respond to natural disasters such as flooding, cyclones, and earthquakes. The fund is also used to assist in medical care, such as kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, and acid attack treatment.
- The fund is solely funded by charitable donations and does not receive any funding from the government. Individuals, organizations, trusts, companies, and institutions, among others, may make voluntary donations.
- The fund’s assets are also deployed in a variety of ways through commercial banks and other institutions. Disbursements are made with the Prime Minister’s approval.
- The fund is designated as a Trust under the Income Tax Act, and it is handled for national purposes by the Prime Minister.
- Under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act of 1961, contributions to the PMNRF are eligible for a 100 percent deduction from taxable income.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Context: A survey held at the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala in recent weeks identified 35 tigers, indicating an increase in the apex predator population.
More about the News
- The survey was conducted as the fourth phase of the monitoring programme initiated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- The preliminary results of this survey would help in the long-term management, conservation, and protection of tigers.
- The survey included the entire core area and buffer zones of the reserve. The tigers were identified from their unique stripe pattern.
More about Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
- The Nelliampathy – Annamalai landscape of India’s Southern Western Ghats contains the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, a well-protected ecological area.
- It is found in Kerala’s Palakkad District.
- During the years 2008-2009, it was designated as a Tiger Reserve.
- The reserve is famous for having the world’s first scientifically operated teak plantation, which was later combined with forest property.
- The largest and oldest teak tree in the world can be found here. The tree, known as “Kannimara” is 350 years old and stands 40 meters tall with a girth of 6.4 meters.
- Tigers, Grey-headed Fishing Eagles, Peninsular Bay Owls, Nilgiris Wood Pigeons, Black-capped Kingfishers, and Lesser Grey-headed Fish Eagles are among the fauna found in this reserve.
Context: The 19th edition of exercise ‘VARUNA-2021’ has been conducted in the Arabian Sea.
More on News:
- Varuna is a bilateral naval exercise between India and France.
- VARUNA-21 has showcased an increased level of synergy, coordination, and interoperability between the two friendly navies.
- These interactions further underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.
- Units of both navies have endeavoured to enhance their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security, and stability in the maritime domain.
CREW 2 Mission
Relevance: Space Technology
Context: Four astronauts were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaboration between SpaceX and NASA under the Commercial Crew Program/Space Crew 2 Mission.
About Space Crew 2 Mission:
- The Crew-2 mission consists of the first-ever crew propelled into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from a previous spaceflight.
- Their central focus during this time will be to continue a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies. Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body.
- According to NASA, these chips can potentially speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.
- Scientists can use these tissue chips in space to study diseases that affect specific human organs, which would take months or years to develop on Earth.
What is Commercial Crew Programme?
- The main objective of this program is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, enabling greater scientific research.
- Through this program, NASA plans to lower its costs by sharing them with commercial partners such as Boeing and SpaceX, and also give the companies incentive to design and build the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS).
Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SWAMITVA) Scheme
Relevance: Government schemes and Initiatives
Context: Prime Minister has launched the distribution of e-property cards under the SWAMITVA scheme.
More on News:
- The e-property cards have been distributed on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day (24 April).
- Prime Minister has also conferred the National Panchayat Awards 2021 on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj day.
- The National Panchayat Awards 2021 are being conferred under the following categories: Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (to 224 Panchayats), Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (to 30 Gram Panchayats), Gram Panchayat Development Plan Award (to 29 Gram Panchayats), Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award (to 30 Gram Panchayats) and e-Panchayat Puraskar (to 12 States).
- It was launched on 24th April 2020 as a Central Sector Scheme to promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India.
- It is an initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
- It aims to provide rural people with the right to document their residential properties so that they can use their property for economic purposes.
- The scheme is for surveying the land parcels in the rural inhabited area using Drone technology.
- The Scheme has the potential to transform rural India using modern technical tools of mapping and surveying.
- It paves the way for using the property as a financial asset by villagers for availing of loans and other financial benefits.
- The Scheme will cover around 6.62 Lakh villages of the entire country during 2021-2025.
- The pilot phase of the Scheme was implemented during 2020-2021 in the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and select villages of Punjab and Rajasthan.
Context: Prime Minister has greeted the people on Mahavir Jayanti.
About Lord Mahavir:
- Mahavira is regarded as the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of the Jainas. It is said that the first of those prophets was Rishabhadeva, and the last Tirthankara before Mahavira was
- A Tirthankara is an enlightened soul who is born as a human being and attains perfection through intense meditation.
- He became an ascetic at the age of 30 after the early death of his parents.
- For two years he was a member of an order founded by Parsvanatha, but he left it later and roamed for the next 10 years.
- He spent the first 6 years of his life, wandering with Gosala Maskariputra (the founder of the Ajivika sect).
- After attaining kaivalya (Perfect Knowledge) under a sal tree at Jrimbhikagrama, at the age of 42, he preached for 30 years and died at the age of 72 in 468 BC at Pavapuri near Rajagriha.
- Lord Mahavira considered men and women to be spiritual equals and that they both may renounce the world in search of Moksha.
- Lord Mahavira encouraged the participation of people from all social standings, rich and poor, men and women, touchable and untouchable.
- The ultimate goal behind practicing the teachings of Lord Mahavira is to attain freedom from the cycle of rebirth as human life is representative of pain, misery, and vices.
- He preached that the real path leading to the attainment of liberation from the cycle of Karma is through Samyak Darshana (right faith), Samyak Jnana (right knowledge), and Samyak Charitra (right character).
- These three basic principles were further elaborated by the Gandhara Gautama Swami into the twelve parts of sacred scriptures known as the 12 Agamas.
- Sermons of Lord Mahaveer were compiled in the Agam Sutras by his disciples and were passed on to the common people through oral recitations.
- These scriptures prescribe 5 basic vows that should be observed by monks and common disciples alike. These five basic vows are:
- Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – not to cause harm to any living beings
- Truthfulness (Satya) – to speak the harmless truth only
- Non-stealing (Asteya) – not to take anything not properly given
- Chastity (Brahmacharya) – not to indulge in sensual pleasure
- Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) – complete detachment from people, places, and material things.
Context: Zydus Cadila’s Virafin gets Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) nod for hepatitis drug for Covid-19 treatment.
More on News:
- It is used to treat people with Hepatitis B and C.
- A single dose subcutaneous regimen of the antiviral Virafin will make the treatment more convenient for the patients.
- When administered early on during COVID, Virafin will help patients recover faster and avoid much of the complications.
- In a multi-centre trial in 20-25 centres across India, the company found the drug reduced the need for supplemental oxygen.
- This indicates that the antiviral was able to control respiratory distress and failure which has been one of the major challenges in treating COVID-19.
- In the phase-3 trials, the drug was able to achieve “better clinical improvement in the patients suffering from COVID-19.
Mission Net Zero
Context: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has launched ‘IGBC Mission on Net Zero’.
IGBC Mission on Net Zero:
- It aims to facilitate ‘India to achieve net-zero carbon emission status by 2050.
- More than 250 leading organizations in the building sector have committed to achieving Net Zero status.
- It is a part of the CII that was formed in the year 2001.
- The vision of the council is to enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025.
- The council offers a wide array of services which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services, and green building training programmes.
- The council also organizes Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
- CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led, and industry-managed organization.
- It was founded in 1895.
- It works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the development of India, partnering industry, Government, and civil society, through advisory and consultative processes.
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