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02 March 2024 | Daily Current Affairs | Daily The Hindu Analysis

Sri Lanka Map

Greenhushing

Greenhushing is like being shy about doing good deeds. A company might be working on sustainability efforts but stays quiet for fear of being called out for not doing enough. It's the opposite of greenwashing (bragging about fake eco-friendliness).



Two Years In: The Stalemate of the Russo-Ukrainian War

The Roots of the Conflict:

The war's origins lie in 2008 when NATO expressed interest in admitting Ukraine, a move seen as a major provocation by Russia. Fearing NATO expansion into former Soviet territory, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and launched a full-scale invasion in 2022.

The Battlefield:

The war has become a bloody stalemate. Ukraine desperately needs artillery ammunition to defend its 1,500 km frontline. Shortages have caused rising casualties and the recent loss of the strategic city of Avdiivka. Russia, though, has suffered heavy losses estimated at 200,000 dead and injured.

International Support:

The US has been the biggest arms supplier, but a vital $60 billion aid package is stuck in Congress due to Republican pressure. Europe approved a €5 billion economic aid package, but disagreements cloud further military funding. Germany and other EU members argue over how to share the financial burden.

Looking Ahead:

  • NATO Membership: Ukraine's hopes for immediate membership are dashed. NATO offers some consolation by strengthening existing cooperation channels.

  • Uncertainty Looms: The upcoming Russian election, likely rigged in Putin's favor, and a potential Trump presidency in the US raise serious concerns for Ukraine's future.

Additional Notes:

  • The war has caused a massive humanitarian crisis, displacing millions within Ukraine and forcing millions more to flee the country as refugees.

  • The economic impact is global, with rising food and energy prices.

This is a complex conflict with no easy solutions. The coming months will be crucial in determining the war's trajectory.


Goods and Services Tax

Introduction

GST encapsulates the dictum – “One nation, one indirect tax”. It will make India one unified common market.

GST was first mooted in the year 2003 by Kelkar Task Force on indirect taxes, who had suggested subsuming various central and state indirect taxes into one indirect tax. To implement this vision, an Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers was created and tasked with the responsibilty of ironing out the differences and taking this monumental reform forward.

Features of GST

  • Single tax on supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer

  • It is a destination based tax unlike the present taxation scheme which is origin based

  • It is a value based tax as credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stages

  • The final consumer will bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain


The GST replaced the following taxes:

(i) Taxes currently levied and collected by the Centre:

  1. Central Excise duty

  2. Duties of Excise (Medicinal and Toilet Preparations)

  3. Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance)

  4. Additional Duties of Excise (Textiles and Textile Products)

  5. Additional Duties of Customs (commonly known as CVD)

  6. Special Additional Duty of Customs (SAD)

  7. Service Tax

  8. Central Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services

(ii) State taxes that would be subsumed under the GST are:

  1. State VAT

  2. Central Sales Tax

  3. Luxury Tax

  4. Entry Tax (all forms)

  5. Entertainment and Amusement Tax (except when levied by the local bodies)

  6. Taxes on advertisements g. Purchase Tax

  7. Taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling

  8. State Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services


TAXES WHICH ARE NOT TO BE SUBSUMED


Basic Customs Duty: These are protective duties levied at the time of Import of goods into India.

Exports Duty: This duty is imposed at the time of export of certain goods which are not available in India in abundance.

Road & Passenger Tax: These are in the nature of fees and not in the nature of taxes on goods and services.

Toll Tax: These are in the nature of user fees and not in the nature of taxes on goods and services.

Property Tax Stamp Duty Electricity Duty


GST Council

Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A.

Composition of the GST Council

Article 279A(2): The Goods and Services Tax Council shall consist of the following members:

Chairperson

  • The Union Finance Minister

Members 

  • The Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance

  • The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each state government

Vice-Chairperson

Article 279A(3): The Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall choose one member amongst themselves to be the Vice-Chairperson of the Council for such period as they may decide. 

Functions

Article 279A(4): The Goods and Services Tax Council shall make recommendations to the Union and the States on

  • The taxes, cesses, and surcharges levied by the Union, the States, and the local bodies which may be subsumed in the goods and services tax.

  • The goods and services that may be subjected to, or exempted from, the goods and services tax.

  • Model Goods and Services Tax Laws, principles of levy, apportionment of Goods and Services Tax levied on supplies in the course of inter-State trade or commerce under article 269A, and the principles that govern the place of supply.

  • The threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from goods and services tax.

  • The rates include floor rates with bands of goods and services tax. 

  • Any special rate or rates for a specified period to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster.

  • Special provision with respect to the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand; and any other matter relating to the goods and services tax, as the Council may decide. 


What is the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)?

why in news: - NBDSA raps 3 news channels for violating Code of Ethics


  • The NBDSA is a self-regulatory agency set up by news and digital broadcasters.

  • It is an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA), which serves as a representative of private television news, current affairs and digital broadcasters.

  • It describes itself as “the collective voice of the news, current affairs and digital broadcasters in India.”

  • Funded entirely by its members, the NBDA has 26 news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 119 news and current affairs channels) as its members.

  • Various senior members of Indian media organisations serve on its Board of Directors.

Composition of the NBDSA

  • The body includes a Chairperson who is to be an eminent jurist, and other members such as news editors, and those experienced in the field of law, education, literature, public administration, etc.

  • They are to be nominated by a majority of the Board.

  • Former Supreme Court judge and jurist AK Sikri is currently serving as the Chairperson.

Functioning of NBDSA

  • Within this structure, it lays-down and foster high standards, ethics and practices in news broadcasting, including entertaining and deciding complaints against or in respect of broadcasters.

  • These standards mention a focus on objectivity, impartiality, maintaining discretion when reporting on crime against women and children, not endangering national security, etc.

Powers and authorities

  • NBDSA may initiate proceedings on its own and issue notice or take action in respect to any matter which falls within its regulations.

  • This can also be through complaints referred to the Authority by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting or any other governmental body, or by anyone else via its website.

  • A “two-tier” procedure is in place for redressing grievances, where any person aggrieved by the content of any broadcast is required to first make a complaint to the concerned broadcaster and then the Authority if dissatisfied.

Why was the channel fined?

  • The NBDSA held that the programme was in violation of the principles relating to impartiality, neutrality, fairness and good taste and decency.

  • It said that it did not have any problem with the subject but with the narrative of the debate.


Elephants

Why in News: -

A new study has revealed that Asian Elephants Bury Calves Upright!

Surprise discovery in the eastern Himalayas! A new study reveals Asian elephant herds burying their dead calves in an upright position. This behavior, never documented before, has researchers curious. The study also found herds avoiding these burial sites, suggesting some form of memory.

Habitat loss might be a factor. Rampant environmen￾tal changes and forest des￾truction push Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and their African counter￾parts (Loxodonta africana) to explore human spaces to fulfil their dietary and ecological requirements, leading to ‘novel’ elephant behaviours in shared spaces. While the reason for upright burials remains unknown, the study highlights the fascinating social lives of elephants and the impact of environmental changes.


  • Elephants in India:

  • Elephants are keystone species as well as the Natural Heritage Animal of India.

  • India has the largest number of wild Asian Elephants. The elephant population in the country is estimated to be over 30,000.

  • Karnataka has the highest elephant population in India.

  • Conservation Status:

  • Convention of the Migratory Species (CMS): Appendix I

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species:

  • Asian Elephant: Endangered

  • African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered

  • African Savanna Elephant: Endangered

  • Conservative Efforts:

  • India:

  • Gaj Yatra

  • Project Elephant

  • Worldwide:

  • Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme.

  • World Elephant Day


Editorial Analysis

Decoding the script: On the Genome India Project and its sequencing 10,000 Indian genomes

India's ambitious Genome India Project (GIP) has achieved a significant milestone by sequencing 10,000 human genomes. This accomplishment is akin to creating a detailed genetic map of the Indian population, offering unprecedented insights into the nation's unique genetic makeup.

Building a Reference Point:

Imagine a map of the world where India is just a small, blurry outline. The GIP's sequenced genomes act as precise geographical features, providing a much clearer picture. This "reference Indian genome" will be instrumental in understanding the genetic basis of diseases prevalent in India.

Decoding Disease Risk:

One early success story highlights the project's potential. Researchers identified a genetic variant linked to a higher risk of heart failure, present in a significant portion of the Indian population. This discovery paves the way for targeted screening and potentially new preventative measures.

Challenges and Looking Ahead:

While 10,000 genomes represent a substantial sample, capturing India's vast genetic diversity remains a challenge. Additionally, most diseases have complex causes, not solely determined by a single gene.

Despite these hurdles, the GIP is a crucial first step. Future efforts should aim to:

  • Expand sequencing: Include more individuals to better represent India's diverse population groups.

  • Embrace collaboration: Facilitate partnerships between scientists, ethicists, and social scientists to ensure accessibility and ethical considerations.

  • Personalized medicine: Leverage these findings to develop personalized healthcare solutions for a healthier future.

The GIP's success paves the way for a deeper understanding of India's unique genetic landscape. By addressing the challenges and fostering collaboration, this project has the potential to revolutionize healthcare for millions of Indians.


India’s burgeoning death penalty crisis

India's death row population has ballooned to a staggering high of over 561 individuals, the highest since 2004. This troubling trend comes despite a glimmer of hope – the Supreme Court's unprecedented acquittals of nearly 55% (6 prisoners) of death row cases it reviewed in 2023. However, this ray of light exposes a deeper darkness within the system.

A Broken Process from Start to Finish:

  • Failed Reforms at Lower Levels: The Supreme Court's efforts in 2022 to improve death penalty sentencing haven't trickled down. Trial courts continue to impose a staggering 87% of death sentences without following mandated guidelines, highlighting a major disconnect between top and bottom.

  • Acquittal Rates Reveal Systemic Flaws: The high acquittal rate isn't just about sentencing. It exposes fundamental problems throughout the criminal justice system. Fabricated evidence, manipulated reports, and unreliable police investigations paint a grim picture, raising serious questions about the fairness of convictions.

  • Dehumanizing Conditions on Death Row: Beyond the constant fear of execution, death row prisoners endure violence, humiliation, and social isolation within prisons. These conditions are further exacerbated by a lack of access to work, education, and leisure – tools crucial for even a semblance of normalcy. The psychological damage inflicted on death row, even for those eventually acquitted, can be lasting.

  • Rising Population Despite High Acquittal Rates: The death row population continues to climb despite the high acquittal rates. This points to an excessive and unjustifiable use of the death penalty by lower courts, highlighting a disconnect between pronouncements and practices. Project 39A's report further complicates the issue by revealing a 15% decline in High Court case disposal rates, suggesting a system struggling to keep up with its own backlog. Countless individuals languish on death row, some even taking their own lives like the person who died by suicide in Yerwada jail in September 2023, after waiting for confirmation on his case for four years.

A Flawed Approach to Reform:

The planned Constitution Bench to reform sentencing, laudable as it may be, might be a case of "too little, too late." It focuses narrowly on sentencing, neglecting the bigger picture – the systemic issues plaguing the entire process, from police investigations to prison conditions.

The Urgent Need for a Comprehensive Solution:

The high number of acquittals exposes the system's inherent risk of error. India urgently needs to move beyond piecemeal reforms and consider a broader approach. Can death penalty reform truly be limited to sentencing alone when the entire criminal justice system is riddled with flaws? A comprehensive overhaul that addresses the systemic issues across the board is essential to ensure a fair and just process, even if the death penalty remains on the books.


02 March 2024 | Daily Current Affairs

02 March 2024 | Daily Current Affairs





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