- Electoral College for Presidential Election
- The President of India is indirectly elected by means of an electoral college comprising of:
1) the elected members of the Parliament of India a
2) the elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the States and
3) the elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry
- Electoral College for Vice Presidential Election
- The Vice President of India is indirectly elected by means of an electoral college comprising of members of both houses of parliament.
- System of Proportional Representation for Presidential Election
- With a view to ensure uniformity of the representation of different states and parity between the Union and the states, the constitution in article 56 provides an ingenious method.
- The formula for value of vote for an MLA is as follows:
Value of Vote of an MLA = (Total Population of that State/ 1000) .
Total number of elected members in the Legislative Assembly
- The formula for value of the vote for an MP is as follows:
Value of Vote of MP = Total number of votes assigned to the elected members of the State Assemblies
Total number of elected members of both Houses of the Parliament
- Thus, Value of vote of all MPs = Value of vote of all MLAs.
- The Aanayoottu (feeding of elephants) is a festival held in the precincts of the Vadakkunnathan temple in City of Thrissur, in Kerala – one of the oldest Shiva temples in southern India.
- The festival falls on the first day of the month of Karkkidakam (timed against the Malayalam calendar), which coincides with the month of July.
- It involves a number of unadorned elephants being positioned amid a multitude of people for being worshipped and fed.
- It is believed that offering poojas and delicious feed to the elephants is a way to satisfy Lord Ganesha—the god of wealth and of the fulfillment of wishes.
- The Vadakkunnathan temple, which is considered to be, has hosted the Aanayottoo event for the past few years.
- Aanavaal pidi
- The unique aanavaal pidi (catching the elephant’s tail) ritual is held on the precincts of the Umayanallur Sree Bala Subramanya Swamy temple in Kerala.
- The ritual, during which devotees chase an elephant in an area of about 100 square metres to catch its tail, is held in the Malayalam month of Meenam at the temple.
- Temple authorities pointed out that the ritual had been in place for the past 1,500 years, and it is symbolic of the beliefs about the childhood pranks of the god-siblings Ganesha and Balasubramanyan.
- Article 370 of the Constitution
- It grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.
- The clause 7 of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh declared that the State could not be compelled to accept any future Constitution of India.
- Article 370 embodied following special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir:
1) It exempted the State from the complete applicability of the Constitution of India. The State was allowed to have its own Constitution.
2) Central legislative powers over the State were limited, at the time of framing, to the three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communications.
3) Other constitutional powers of the Central Government could be extended to the State only with the concurrence of the State Government.
4) The ‘concurrence’ was only provisional. It had to be ratified by the State’s Constituent Assembly.
5) The State’s Constituent Assembly was empowered to recommend the articles of the Indian constitution to be applied to the state or to abrogate the Article 370 altogether.
6) After the state Constituent Assembly has dissolved itself without recommending abrogation, the Article 370 was deemed to have become a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution.
7) The State Government’s authority to give ‘concurrence’ lasted only until the State Constituent Assembly was convened. Once the State Constituent Assembly finalised the scheme of powers and dispersed, no further extension of powers was possible.
8) The Article 370 could be abrogated or amended only upon the recommendation of the State’s Constituent Assembly. Once the State’s Constitutional Assembly convened on 31 October 1951, the State Government’s power to give `concurrence’ lapsed. However, in subsequent years, other provisions continued to be extended to the State with the ‘concurrence’ of the State Government
- Yarlung Zangbo River
- Yarlung Tsangpo (or Yarlung Zangbo) River is the longest river of Tibet.
- It is the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River.
- Originating at Angsi Glacier in western Tibet, southeast of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, it later forms the South Tibet Valley and Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon before passing into the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
- Downstream from Arunachal Pradesh the river becomes phenomenally wider and is called the Siang.
- After reaching Assam, the river is known as Brahmaputra.
- “Namami Brahmaputra” festival was organised in Assam in April 2017.
- From Assam, the river enters Bangladesh at Ramnabazar.
- From there until about 200 years ago it used to flow eastward and joined the Meghna River near Bhairab Upazila. This old channel has been gradually dying.
- At present the main channel of the river is called Jamuna River, which flows southward to meet the Padma, the popular name of the river Ganga in Bangladesh, and finally the Meghna and then drains into the Bay of Bengal.
- Malabar Exercise
- Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
- Originally a bilateral exercise between India and the United States since 1992, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
- Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
- Malabar 2007 was the ninth Malabar exercise and was the first one to be held outside the Indian Ocean, off the Japanese island of Okinawa and included participation of Australia and Singapore. China, which did off not officially comment on the exercise, was known to be unhappy over the event.
- The underlying theme of Malabar is to understand each other’s standard operating procedures and each other’s ways of working better, to enhance camaraderie and bonhomie.
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were the eight international development goals for the year 2015 that had been established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
- All 191 United Nations member states at that time, and at least 22 international organizations, committed to help achieve the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:
1) To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2) To achieve universal primary education
3) To promote gender equality and empower women
4) To reduce child mortality
5) To improve maternal health
6) To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7) To ensure environmental sustainability
8) To develop a global partnership for development
- Each goal had specific targets, and dates for achieving those targets.
- Critics of the MDGs complained of a lack of analysis and justification behind the chosen objectives, and the difficulty or lack of measurements for some goals and uneven progress, among others. Although developed countries’ aid for achieving the MDGs rose during the challenge period, more than half went for debt relief and much of the remainder going towards natural disaster relief and military aid, rather than further development.
- The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replaced the MDGs in 2016.
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them.
- These included ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests
- It is spearheaded by the United Nations through a deliberative process involving its 193 Member States, as well asglobal civil society.
- It is a broader intergovernmental agreement that acts as the Post 2015 Development Agenda (successor to the Millennium Development Goals).
- The SDGs build on the Principles agreed upon under Resolution A/RES/66/288, popularly known as The Future We Want.
- It is a non-binding document released as a result of Rio+20 Conference held in 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
- The SDGs were in large measure informed by the perspective reflected in the often quoted assertion by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016, that “we don’t have plan B because there is no planet B”.
- SDG Health Price Tag
- It is the estimated cost of achieving the health targets in the SDGs in 67 low- and middle-income countries that account for 75% of the world’s population.
- They must invest an additional $371 billion per year or $58 per person on health by 2030, in order for the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health.
- Meeting the SDGs calls for higher investments in health, so that health spending as a proportion of gross domestic product in these 67 countries increased from the present average of 5.6% to 7.5%.
- India currently spends 1.09% of the GDP on health, which is among the lowest in the world.
- North Natuna Sea
- Indonesia will now refer to the northern areas of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the “North Natuna Sea” in an act of defiance against Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the region, the media reported.
- It unveiled a new map with the renamed territory.
- “We need to continue updating the naming of the sea and report to the UN about the borders,” Oegroseno told Indonesia’s state-run news agency Antara.
- “This [system] would allow the international community to know whose territory they pass through,” he added.
- Part of the renamed area falls in China’s “nine-dash line” —— waters extending hundreds of miles to the south and east of China’s island province Hainan.
- China claims the entirety of the sea, but Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia all have competing territorial claimsto parts that are near their respective shores, reports CNN.
- Indonesia is not the first country to rename part of the South China Sea.
- In 2011, the Philippines renamed the waters as the “West Philippine Sea” and two years later took the territorial dispute before an international tribunal at The Hague.
- In July 2016, the tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines, concluding that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.
- China responded by calling the ruling a farce.
- Stressed assets
- Stressed assets = NPAs + Restructured loans +Written Off Assets
- Non Performing Asset (NPA)
- An NPA means interest or principal is not repaid by the borrower during a specified time period (90 days).NPAs assets are further classified into substandard asset, doubtful asset, and loss assets depending upon how long a loan remains as an NPA.
- Restructured asset
- Those assets which got an extended repayment period, reduced interest rate, converting a part of the loan into equity, providing additional financing, or some combination of these measures.
- Hence, under restructuring a bad loan is modified as a new loan. But the real problem is that it was actually an NPA.
- Written off assets
- Those that bank or lender doesn’t count the money borrower owes to it.
- The financial statement of the bank will indicate that the written off loans are compensated through some other way.
- This does not mean that the borrower is pardoned or got exempted from payment
- Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- It is an indirect tax throughout India to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments.
- It was introduced as The Constitution (101st Amendment) Act 2016, following the passage of Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill.
- It will subsume various indirect taxes including central excise duty, services tax, additional customs duty, surcharges, state-level value added tax and Octroi
- It would mitigate double taxation as it is a tax on value addition only.
- It is consumption based tax levied on the supply of Goods and Services which will be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method.
- It would provide for a common national market.
- The simplicity of the tax would lead to easier administration and enforcement.
- From the consumer point of view, the biggest advantage would be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods, which is currently estimated at 25%-30%,
- It would facilitate free movement of goods from one state to another without stopping at state borders for hours for payment of state tax or entry tax and reduction in paperwork to a large extent.
- GST is expected to be applicable from 1 July 2017.
- GST Council
- The GST is governed by GST Council.
- It was created in September 2016 under Article 279-A of the Constitution of India.
- It comprises of:
- The Union Finance Minister (as Chairman),
- The Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance, and
iii. The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister, nominated by each state government.
- The decisions of the GST Council are made by three-fourth majority of the votes cast. The centre has one-third of the votes cast, and the states together have two-third of the votes cast. Each state has one vote, irrespective of its size or population.
- As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like
- Taxes, cesses, and surcharges to be subsumed under the GST;
- Goods and services which may be subject to, or exempt from GST;
iii. The threshold limit of turnover for application of GST;
- Rates of GST;
- Model GST laws, principles of levy, apportionment of IGST and principles related to place of supply;
- Special provisions with respect to the eight north eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand; and
vii. Other related matters.
- Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)
- It is a nonprofit organization formed to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the GST.
- The portal will be accessible to the central government which will track down every transaction on its end while the merchants/ vendors will be filing their taxes and maintaining the details.
- The IT network will be developed by private firms which are in tie up with the central government and will be having stakes accordingly.
- The authorized capital of GSTN is Rs. 10 crore in which Central Government holds 24.5 percent of shares while the state government holds 24.5 percent and rest 51% with private banking firms.
- Payment Banks
- Payment bank is a new model of differentiated bank conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- These banks can accept a restricted deposit, which is currently limited to Rs. 1 lakh per customer and may be increased further.
- These banks cannot issue loans and credit cards.
- Both current account and savings accounts can be operated by such banks.
- They can offer payments and remittance services and issue ATM/debit cards, but not credit cards.
- They can also distribute simple financial products such as mutual fund units and insurance products, said RBI.
- The minimum capital requirement is Rs. 100 crore.
- For the first five years, the stake of the promoter should remain at least 40%.
- Foreign share holding will be allowed in these banks as per the rules for FDI in private banks in India – currently set at 74%.
- The majority of the bank’s board of directors should consist of independent directors, appointed according to RBI guidelines.
- 25% of its branches must be in the unbanked rural area.
- Apart from amounts maintained as cash with the central bank (defined by the cash reserve ratio, or CRR), payments banks will be required to invest at least 75% of their demand deposits in statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) eligible government securities or treasury bills with maturity up to one year. The remaining 25% of their fixed deposits can be parked with other scheduled commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.
- The bank must use the term “payments bank” in its name to differentiate it from other types of bank.
- In August 2015, the Reserve Bank of India gave “in-principle” licences to eleven entities to launch payments banks:
1) Aditya Birla Nuvo
2) Airtel M Commerce Services
3) Cholamandalam Distribution Services
4) Department of Posts
5) FINO PayTech Ltd
6) National Securities Depository Ltd
7) Reliance Industries
8) Dilip Shantilal Shanghvi (Sun Pharmaceuticals)
9) Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm)
10) Tech Mahindra
11) Vodafone M-Pesa
- Out of these, three have surrendered their licenses. First one being “Cholamandalam Distribution Services”, then “Sun Pharmaceuticals” and the latest, “Tech Mahindra”.
- Airtel has launched India’s first live payments bank.
- Paytm is the second such service to be launched in the country.
- India Post Payments Bank is the third entity to receive payments bank permit.
- Aditya Birla group earned payments bank permit on 3 March 2017.
- Small Finance Banks
- Small finance banks are a type of niche banks in India.
- Banks with a small finance bank license can provide basic banking service of acceptance of deposits and lending.
- The aim is to provide financial inclusion to sections of the economy not being served by other banks, such as small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.
- The firms must have an initial capital of Rs.100 crore.
- Existing non-banking financial companies (NBFC), micro-finance institutions (MFI) and local area banks (LAB) are allowed to set up small finance banks.
- The promoters should have 10 years experience in banking and finance.
- The promoters stake in the paid-up equity capital will be 40% initially which must be brought down to 26% in 12 years.
- Joint ventures are not permitted.
- Foreign share holding will be allowed in these banks as per the rules for FDI in private banks in India – currently set at 74%.
- They will have to maintain the mandatory 4% of their deposits as CRR and hold 22% of their deposits in government securities.
- The banks will not be restricted to any region.
- 25% of its branches must be in the unbanked rural area
- 75% of its net credits should be in priority sector lending.
- 50% of the loan portfolio must be “loans and advances of upto Rs.25 lakh”.
- Bisphenol-A (also known as BPA)
- Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic synthetic compound belonging to the group of diphenylmethane derivatives and bisphenols.
- It is a colorless solid that is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water.
- It has been in commercial use since 1957.
- BPA is employed to make certain plastics and epoxy resins.
- BPA-based plastic is clear and tough, and is made into a variety of common consumer goods, such as water bottles, sports equipment, CDs, and DVDs.
- Epoxy resins containing BPA are used to line water pipes, as coatings on the inside of many food and beverage cans and in making thermal paper such as that used in sales receipts.
- BPA exhibits estrogen mimicking, hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in some consumer products and food containers.
- Since 2008, several governments have investigated its safety, which prompted some retailers to withdraw polycarbonate products.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ended its authorization of the use of BPA in baby bottles and infant formula packaging, based on market abandonment, not safety.
- The European Union and Canada have banned BPA use in baby bottles.It is considered as a potential carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) by many.