Welcome to TARUN IAS – Your Daily News Analysis for UPSC/IAS Exam Preparation!
Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates at 12 noon (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 20 & 21 August 2023: India-ASEAN FTA, Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Amendment Bill, 2023, Vegetable Prices, Frictionless Credit, Superconductivity, ‘We20’ People’s Summit, Sadbhavana Diwas, Tulip Garden.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
- India-ASEAN FTA
- Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Amendment Bill, 2023
GS Paper 3:
- Vegetable Prices
- Frictionless Credit
Facts for Prelims:
- ‘We20’ People’s Summit
- Sadbhavana Diwas
- Tulip Garden
GS Paper 2
Courtesy: Ministry of Commerce & Industry
- India and the ASEAN trade officials will meet at Semarang in Indonesia to start the formal ministerial review of the bilateral free trade agreement signed more than thirteen years ago.
About India-ASEAN FTA:
- The Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and India was signed in October 2003 and served as a legal basis for concluding further agreements, including Trade in Goods Agreement, Trade in Services Agreement, and Investment Agreement that form the ASEAN-Indian Free Trade Area (AIFTA).
- The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed and entered into force on 1 January 2010.
- Under the Agreement, ASEAN Member States and India have agreed to open their respective markets by progressively reducing and eliminating duties on 76.4% coverage of goods.
- The ASEAN-India Trade in Services Agreement was signed in November 2014. It contains provisions on transparency, domestic regulations, recognition, market access, national treatment and dispute settlement.
- The ASEAN-India Investment Agreement was also signed in November 2014.
- The Investment Agreement stipulates protection of investment to ensure fair and equitable treatment for investors, non-discriminatory treatment in expropriation or nationalisation as well as fair compensation.
- Economic co-operation activities under the AIFTA are now being undertaken on agriculture, fisheries and forestry; services; mining and energy; science and technology; transport and infrastructure; manufacturing; human resource development; and other sectors such as handicrafts, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), competition policy, Mekong Basin Development, intellectual property rights and government procurement.
Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Amendment Bill, 2023
- The Government of India has recently proposed the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Amendment Bill, 2023 to create digital birth certificates. It aims to eliminate the need for multiple documents to prove the date and place of birth.
Key Features of the Bill:
- The proposed legislation presents notable changes to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act from 1969.
- It mandates the designation of a Registrar-General for India, responsible for providing overarching guidelines for birth and death registrations.
- A database at both national and state levels will be established for recorded births and deaths, aiding in the updating of other related databases.
- The legislation compels states to digitally register births and deaths on a unified platform named the Centre’s Civil Registration System (CRS).
- Medical facilities will be obligated to furnish a certificate detailing the cause of death to the Registrar.
Benefits of the new Bill:
- The electronic birth certificate will be requisite for enrolment in educational institutions, obtaining driving licenses, securing government employment, passport applications, Aadhaar registration, voter registration, and formalizing marriage registration.
- The centralized register will facilitate the efficient and transparent delivery of public services and social benefits.
- The database will also update the National Population Register (NPR), ration cards, and property registration records.
- It will also simplify the registration process for adopted, orphaned, abandoned, surrendered, and surrogate children.
GS Paper 3
- The finance minister in her recent statement assured that the vegetable prices are likely to cool down from September 2023.
Why there is a rise in vegetable prices?
- The rise in prices can be attributed to the erratic monsoon that has swept across parts of the country, coupled with subsequent flooding in certain North Indian plains.
- Traders and farmers point to a combination of factors that have contributed to the current price hike.
- The initial intense heatwave was followed by intermittent rainfall, and now, the surplus rainfall has severely disrupted the fresh vegetable supply chain.
- The excessive moisture has caused crop damage and hindered transportation, resulting in reduced supply and increased prices.
- Rising crude oil prices, crude oil prices currently are hovering around $85 per barrel as against $70-73 a barrel at the time of the budget. Rising crude oil price is a concern but they are still within a tolerable zone from the point of view of oil marketing companies.
Cooling down of prices:
- The Centre’s capital expenditure which was 28 per cent of Budget estimates at the end of the June quarter, will reach 50 per cent by September end.
- In the 2023-24 budget, the government had hiked capital investment outlay by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore in the current fiscal.
- A 6 per cent rainfall deficit is unlikely to impact kharif sowing as the agriculture sector is resilient.
- The government has been taking steps to control inflation, including releasing wheat and rice stocks from reserves, putting restrictions on exports of rice, and sugar, and allowing the import of pulses and oilseeds.
- Tomato is a seasonal crop and India will get another crop shortly and the price pressure will ease.
- As per the government, the budget calculations do not include crude oil prices because the government does not give subsidies to oil marketing companies. So, the fluctuation in crude prices does not have any impact on fiscal math.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has commenced a pilot programme endeavouring to evaluate the feasibility and functionality of the ‘Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit’.
About the Platform:
- Digital delivery of credit (delivering credit/loans through digital means) or any loan is preceded by a process of scrutiny known as credit appraisal.
- The process attempts to evaluate and accordingly predict the prospective borrowers’ ability to repayment of credit/loan and adhere to the credit agreement.
- This predisbursal process is particularly important for banks since it would in turn determine their interest income and impact on the balance sheet.
- The central banking regulator has observed that the data required for the process rests with different entities like central and state governments, account aggregators, banks, credit information companies, and digital identity authorities.
- Thus, being in separate systems, it creates “hindrances in frictionless and timely delivery of rule-based lending,” the regulator notes.
- This new platform would bring all of it together in a single place.
- To facilitate “frictionless” and “timely delivery” of loans, the central banking regulator instituted a pilot project for the digitalisation of Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loans, of less than ₹6 lakh, in September 2022.
- It tested “end-to-end digitalisation of the lending process in a paperless and hassle-free manner”.
- The pilot is currently ongoing in select districts of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. It provides for “doorstep disbursement of loans in assisted or self-service mode without any paperwork.”
About this Pilot:
- The platform is premised around the learnings from all the ongoing programmes and further expands the scope to all types of digital loans.
- The public platform will be developed by its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH).
- The proposed end-to-end platform will have an open architecture, open Application Programming Interfaces (API) and standards, to which all financial sector players would be able to connect seamlessly in a ‘plug and play’ model.
- With the participation from certain banks, the platform would extend its focus also towards dairy loans, MSME loans (without collateral), personal loans and home loans.
- It is expected to link with services like Aadhar eKYC, Aadhar e-signing, land records from onboarded State governments, satellite data, PAN validation, transliteration, account aggregation by account aggregators (AAs), milk pouring data from select dairy cooperatives, and house/property search data.
- Thus, it would cover all aspects of farming operations (essential to understand the exposure and default risk for loans of this nature) alongside those necessary for ascertaining financial profiles.
- Based on the learnings from this project, the scope and coverage would be further expanded to include more information providers and lenders.
Facts for Prelims
- A property in the realm of materials science that has been the source of endless fascination for scientists is superconductivity.
- Materials possess an innate resistance to the flow of an electric current, which leads to a loss of electrical energy and heat.
- Most materials retain this resistance even when cooled to a very low temperature – but some don’t.
- These are the superconductors.
- They can infinitely conduct a direct current without losing any energy as long as they stay in the superconducting state.
- One of the hallmarks of this state is that if it is placed in a weak magnetic field, the material won’t allow the field to enter its body.
We20’ People’s Summit
- The ‘We20’ people’s summit aims to present a mirror of reality in contrast to the glitz surrounding the G20 summit that India is set to host.
- The G20 Leaders’ Summit is scheduled to be held at the Bharat Mandapam International Exhibition-Convention Centre on September 9-10.
- The group which consists of eminent journalists, activists and politicians from across the country, has organised similar workshops and events in the past.
- Sadbhavana Diwas, commonly referred to as Harmony Day, is commemorated every year on August 20th in India.
- August 20th, 2023 will be the 79th birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
- The World Book of Records in London has acknowledged the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden in Srinagar as the largest tulip garden in Asia.
- This garden boasts a collection of 1.5 million tulip bulbs, representing 68 unique tulip types.
- The garden alsom provides sanctuary to an array of other flowers species such as Daffodils, Hyancinths, Roses, Ranuncli, Muscaria and Iris blooms.