Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Farmer protests
The issue in news
Tens of thousands of farmers are camped on the Delhi-Haryana border on their way to the national capital for a protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
- The farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have mobilised under the Samyukt Kisan Morcha banner for this ‘Dilli Chalo’ agitation.
- They are demanding a repeal of three agricultural marketing reform laws, which they fear will affect the system of government procurement of crops at minimum support prices.
- They also want the Electricity Bill, 2020, which could remove free power for farmers, to be withdrawn.
The three bills
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, allows farmers to sell their harvest outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis without paying any State taxes or fees.
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, facilitates contract farming and direct marketing.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, deregulates the production, storage, movement and sale of several major foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, edible oils and onion, except in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- India-Vietnam Talks
The issue in news
The Defence Ministers of India and Vietnam recently held talks about collaboration in defence industry capability building, training and cooperation in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, etc.
- Both countries reaffirmed the strong India-Vietnam Defence cooperation which is a key pillar of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (2016).
- Vietnam also thanked India for the assistance in capacity building of Vietnamese Defence Forces especially in the field of Human Resource development.
- India conveyed its willingness to enhance the scope and level of training for all three services of Vietnam Defence forces in Indian Defence Institutes.
- Both countries Discussed cooperation in UN peacekeeping operations, which help countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
- Both countries will also Cooperate in the field of Hydrography which will enable sharing of Hydrographic data and assist in production of navigational charts by both sides.
- Vietnam invited India for ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM Plus) being hosted by Vietnam in December 2020.
- The ADMM-Plus is a platform for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its eight Dialogue Partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA (collectively referred to as the “Plus Countries”), to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.
- India and Vietnam have agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific.
- At the UN Security Council, both India and Vietnam will serve concurrently as non-permanent members in 2021.
- India and Vietnam closely cooperate in various regional forums such as East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).
- For India, Vietnam is the 18th largest trading partner globally and within ASEAN, the 4th largest trading partner after Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. For Vietnam, India is the 7th largest trading partner, 7th largest source of import and 9th largest export market globally.
- In 2019-20, five key items imported into India from Vietnam included mobile phones and components, machinery, computers & electronic hardware, natural rubber, chemicals and coffee. Key items exported from India to Vietnam were meat and fishery products, corn, steel, pharmaceuticals, cotton and machinery.
India’s Investments in Vietnam
- India has 278 valid projects with total invested capital of US$ 887.27 million, Major sectors of investment are energy, mineral exploration, agro-processing, sugar, tea, coffee manufacturing, agro-chemicals, IT and auto components.
Vietnam’s Investments in India
- Vietnam has six investment projects in India primarily in the areas of pharmaceuticals, information technology, chemicals and building materials.
- India has a long-standing development partnership with Vietnam. India has also been providing assistance to Vietnam within the ASEAN framework.
- Under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, India has been taking up Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), each valued at US$50,000, in different provinces of Vietnam for development of community infrastructure.
- Fiscal deficit reaches 120% of annual target
The issue in news
The Union Government’s fiscal deficit further widened to ₹9.53 lakh crore, or close to 120% of the annual budget estimate, at the end of October of the current fiscal (2020-21).
- The deficit widened mainly due to poor revenue realisation.
- The fiscal deficit or gap between the expenditure and revenue had breached the annual target in July this year.
- In India, the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act suggests that bringing the fiscal deficit down to about 3 percent of the GDP is the ideal target.
- However, successive governments have not been able to achieve this target.
- For the financial year, the government had pegged the fiscal deficit at Rs 7.96 lakh crore or 3.5 per cent of the GDP in the budget, presented by the Finance Minister in February 2020.
Fiscal deficit is the difference between the government’s total expenditure and its total receipts (excluding borrowing). A fiscal deficit occurs when this expenditure exceeds the revenue generated.
- Fiscal deficit is when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates (excluding money from borrowings).
- The deficit does not mean debt, which is an addition of annual deficits.
What is the Formula of Fiscal Deficit?
Fiscal Deficit = Total Expenditure (Revenue Expenditure + Capital Expenditure) – (Revenue Receipts + Recoveries of Loans + Other Capital Receipts (all Revenue and Capital Receipts except loans taken))
- Gross Fiscal Deficit (GFD) of the government is the surplus of its total expenditure, current and capital, as well as loans net of recovery, above revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts.
- A fiscal deficit happens because of events like a major increase in capital expenditure or due to revenue deficit.
- Capital expenditure is incurred to create long-term assets like buildings, factories, infrastructure development, etc.
- Fiscal deficit serves as an indicator of how well the government is managing its finances.
- A recurring high fiscal deficit implies that the government has been spending beyond its means.
- However, the fiscal deficit is seen in almost every economy while the fiscal surplus is quite rare. The high fiscal deficit is not always a negative thing if the amount is utilised for constructing roads, airports, infrastructure, etc. since these will generate revenue in the long run.
- Fiscal Consolidation refers to the policies undertaken by governments (national and sub-national levels) to reduce their deficits and accumulation of debt stock.
Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
- ‘Sea sparkle’ has affected marine food chain: CMFRI
The issue in news
The Karnataka coast has been witnessing the bloom of Noctiluca scintillans that has displaced microscopic algae called diatoms.
- Diatoms form the basis of the marine food chain.
- The bloom of Noctiluca scintillans displacing diatoms has deprived food for the planktivorous fish.
- The toxic blooms of N. scintillans are linked to massive fish and marine invertebrate kills.
- Though the species does not produce a toxin, it is found to accumulate toxic levels of ammonia, which is then excreted into the surrounding waters, possibly acting as the killing agent in blooms.
- The ammonia makes N. scintillans unpleasant for most creatures. Only jellyfish and salps are known to prey on it.
- N. scintillans graze on other micro-organisms such as larvae, fish eggs, and diatoms.
- But the unicellular phytoplankton that lives inside N. scintillans can photosynthesise, turning sunlight into energy. They help their host cell survive even when food is scarce. Thus, N. scintillans acts as both a plant and an animal.
- Noctiluca scintillans are commonly known as “sea sparkle”.
- The bioluminescent Noctiluca scintillans also brightens the seawater at night.
- Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism and occurs due to a chemical reaction, involving a light-emitting molecule and an enzyme, called luciferin and luciferase.