Daily Current Affairs for 13th October 2020

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Current Affairs October 2020
  4. »
  5. Daily Current Affairs for 13th October 2020

Govt. moves to spur demand


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

Hoping to spur fresh demand of about ₹1 lakh crore in the second half of the year, Union Finance Minister unveiled a mini-stimulus of sorts, comprising incentives for the government and public sector employees to spend more on consumer durables and services, and interest-free loans of ₹12,000 crore to the States for a 50-year tenure to finance capital expenditure.

Key details

  • Centre’s own capital expenditure plans were also enhanced by ₹25,000 crore, from the earlier allocation of ₹4.13 lakh crore, for spending on roads, urban development, water supply, defence infrastructure, and domestically-produced capital equipment for defence infrastructure.
  • Government employees and many organised sector employees have had their jobs and salaries protected during the pandemic and some initial indications suggest savings have increased as many couldn’t spend their usual expenditure during the lockdown.

Reason for stimulus

  • The idea behind the stimulus was to nudge those whose jobs were unaffected to contribute to the revival of demand for the benefit of the less fortunate.
  • With Central government and public sector employees unable to travel during the pandemic, an alternative has been offered to spend their leave travel concession (LTC) benefits that expire in March 2021 on consumer goods, through a two-tiered structure involving LTC cash vouchers.
  • If people spend all this, those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will see a demand rise and livelihood improvement.

What Is an Expansionary Policy?

  • Expansionary, or loose policy is a form of macroeconomic policy that seeks to encourage economic growth.
  • Expansionary policy can consist of either monetary policy or fiscal policy (or a combination of the two).
  • It is part of the general policy prescription of Keynesian economics, to be used during economic slowdowns and recessions in order to moderate the downside of economic cycles.
  • Expansionary policy seeks to stimulate an economy by boosting demand through monetary and fiscal stimulus.
  • Expansionary policy is intended to prevent or moderate economic downturns and recessions.

What Is a Contractionary Policy?

  • Contractionary policy is a monetary measure referring either to a reduction in government spending—particularly deficit spending—or a reduction in the rate of monetary expansion by a central bank.
  • It is a type of macroeconomic tool designed to combat rising inflation or other economic distortions created by central banks or government interventions. Contractionary policy is the polar opposite of expansionary policy.
  • Contractionary policies aim to reduce the rates of monetary expansion by putting some limits on the flow of money in the economy.

Leave Travel Concession (LTC)

  • Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) or Leave Travel Concession (LTC) is the employer’s reward to employees for the hard work, wherein they grant the employees leave while bearing all travel expenses.
  • LTA also helps the employee save tax.
  • This comes with the added benefit of the employee getting to spend quality time with his/her family, and at the same time reduce the burden of tax liability up to a certain limit.
  • LTA tax exemption falls under Section 10(5) of the Income Tax Act, wherein the employee can get his/her travel expenses reimbursed from the employer.
  • The expenses include only travelling expenses and not other expense such as food, shopping, lodging etc.
  • Travel expenses include expenses of the employee along with his/her family to any place in India, twice in a period of four calendar years. The current ongoing block is 2018-21.

India and U.S. too cautious on China


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

According to senior U.S officials India and the United States have been “too cautious”, when it comes to China’s concerns about their strategic ties.

Key details

  • 2+2 talks will be held “later this year”.
  • The ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is also likely to be a factor in strengthening bilateral arrangements and well as coordination in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • According to S, Quad did not carry “binding obligations”, and any country seeking a “free and open Indo-Pacific” would be welcome to join.

2+2 dialogue

  • A ‘two plus two dialogue’ is a term used for installation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries.
  • ‘Two plus two dialogue’ is an expression used to indicate that two appointed ministers from each country, the ministers of defence and external affairs in this case, will meet up to discuss the two countries’ strategic and security interests.
  • The goal is to establish a diplomatic, yet fruitful, conversation between the two countries’ respective heads of defence and external affairs.

India- U.S 2+2 dialogue

  • The first India-U.S 2+2 dialoue was held in 2018 in New Delhi.
  • A lot of progress has been made in the areas of foreign policy and defence between our two countries.
  • Mains discussions held-
    • deepening of bilateral cooperation in areas of defence,
    • counter-terrorism and trade,
    • and to work with like-minded countries for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
    • deepen military-to-military cooperation
  • India holds these dialogues with Japan and Australia as well.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

  • It is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills between member countries.
  • The forum was initiated as a dialogue in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, with the support of Vice President Dick Cheney of the US, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India.
  • The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar.
  • The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quad by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members.

No penal provision to protect transgenders from assault: plea


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

The Supreme Court asked the government to respond to a plea to provide equal protection in law against sexual abuse for transgender persons.

Key details

  • The petition filed said there was no penal provision which protected them from sex crimes.
  • The court referred to the Vishaka guidelines dealing with the sexual harassment of women at the workplace and the decriminalisation of consensual gay sex acts in this context.
  • The plea referred to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other criminal laws which do not mention offences against “transgender, transsexuals, kinnar and eunuchs”.
  • The PIL challenged the constitutional validity of certain clauses of Section 354 A (outraging the modesty of woman) of the IPC, to the extent that they are interpreted to exclude victims of sexual harassment who are transgender persons.

Vishaka Guidelines against Sexual Harassment at Workplace

  • The Vishaka Guidelines were a set of procedural guidelines for use in India in cases of sexual harassment.
  • They were promulgated by the Supreme Court in 1997 and were superseded in 2013 by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • Before 1997, a person facing sexual harassment at workplace had to lodge a complaint under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 that deals with the ‘criminal assault of women to outrage women’s modesty’, and Section 509 that punishes an individual/individuals for using a ‘word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
  • In 1997, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment in the Vishaka case laying down guidelines to be followed by establishments in dealing with complaints about sexual harassment.

The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 also sets out the constitution of the committees, process to be followed for making a complaint and inquiring into the complaint in a time bound manner.

The Sexual Harassment Act casts certain obligations upon the employer to, inter-alia,-

  • provide a safe working environment
  • display conspicuously at the workplace, the penal consequences of indulging in acts that may constitute sexual harassment and the composition of the Internal Complaints Committee
  • organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing employees on the issues and implications of workplace sexual harassment and organizing orientation programmes for members of the Internal Complaints Committee
  • treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct.
  • The employer is also required to monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019

  • It was passed by Parliament on November 26, 2019.
  • The Bill defines a transperson as someone whose gender does not match the one assigned at birth.
  • It prohibits discrimination against them in employment, education, housing, healthcare and other services.
  • The Bill allows self-perception of gender identity. But it mandates that each person would have to be recognised as ‘transgender’ on the basis of a certificate of identity issued by a district magistrate.
  • Enforces a minor’s right of residence compelling any trans person below 18 to cohabit with their natal family.
  • Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household. If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
  • The Bill recognizes the following offences against transgender persons: (i) forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes), (ii) denial of use of public places, (iii) removal from household, and village, (iv) physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse. Penalties for these offences vary between six months and two years, and a fine.

Sri Lanka in talks to secure $500 mn in Chinese loans


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

Colombo is negotiating a $500 million loan with Beijing, as it gears up to repay a daunting $4.5 billion of its outstanding debt next year.

Key details

  • A $500 million concessional loan requested by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance to a “China financial institute” is under negotiation, but yet to be finalised.
  • This is in addition to Beijing’s $90 million grant to Sri Lanka.
  • If sanctioned, the new loan would take Sri Lanka’s total borrowings from China over $1 billion, after the $500 million “urgent financial assistance” that Beijing extended to Colombo in March, to help Sri Lanka cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.

Background- India’s angle

  • SriLanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his visit to New Delhi, had sought a debt moratorium from India, to help Sri Lanka tackle the debt repayment schedule.
  • The request, along with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request for a $1 billion currency swap facility, is “being discussed at the official level”.
  • India sanctioned a $15 million grant for the promotion of Buddhist cultural exchanges.

China’s string of Pearls policy

  • ‘String of Pearls’ refers to a geopolitical theory to the network of Chinese intentions in India Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Precisely, it refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities developed by China in countries falling on the Indian Ocean between the Chinese mainland and Port Sudan.
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and now its macro form of One Belt One Road (OBOR) under which China will construct various land and maritime trade routes are also seen as a part of China’s larger military ambition.

Chinese presence and Impact on India

  • Strait of Malacca– The Indian Ocean sees nearly 60 per cent of the trade which includes the trade of oil from the oil fields of the Middle East. And 80 per cent of China’s oil imports pass through the Strait of Malacca.
  • Myanmar– China has the presence in Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port. The port situated in the Bay of Bengal has given China access to have a commercial Maritime facility which can be used as a military facility at the time of conflict.
  • Bangladesh– China has developed the port of Chittagong which again gives it a station to be used in the heart of the Bay of Bengal. China has invested a lot in Bangladesh and both Bangladesh and Myanmar are important points of OBOR’s sub-project, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM).
  • Sri Lanka– Though India has robust relations with Sri Lanka for centuries, China has found its feet in Sri Lankan soil as well. The Chinese company has developed a port Hambantota, in the Southern-eastern side of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government has also allowed the control of it to a Chinese company.
  • Pakistan– Pakistan has always been China’s tool to keep India in check. The Gwadar Port developed by China for the purpose of CPEC is a cause of concern.

China’s debt trap policy

  • China has been using the financial tool of debt to gain influence across the world and grab considerable power in India’s neighbouring countries, thereby increasing the amount of political and security threats the nation is exposed to.
  • China is dispensing billions of dollars in the form of concessional loans to developing countries, mostly for their large-scale infrastructure projects.
  • Often, developing nations are lured by China’s offer of cheap loans for transformative infra projects, which involve a substantial investment.
  • These developing nations, which are primarily low- or middle-income countries, are unable to keep up with the repayments, and Beijing then gets a chance to demand concessions or advantages in exchange for debt relief.

Anti-microbe drug can fight coronavirus


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

An affordable antimicrobial drug used to treat stomach ulcers and bacterial infections has shown promise in combating the coronavirus in animals.

Key details

  • Researchers set out to explore whether metallodrugs – compounds containing metal that are more commonly used against bacteria – might also have antiviral properties that could fight the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus.
  • Using Syrian hamsters as test subjects, they found that one of the drugs, ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC), was “a potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent”.

Ranitidine bismuth citrate

  • RBC is able to lower the viral load in the lung of the infected hamster by tenfold.
  • The findings demonstrate that RBC is a potential antiviral agent for COVID-19.
  • RBC was a commonly available drug used against stomach ulcers with a safe and comprehensive pharmacological profile.
  • It’s been used for decades, so it’s pretty safe.

What are Antimicrobial drugs

  • Antimicrobial” is a general term that refers to a group of drugs that includes antibiotics, antifungals, antiprotozoals, and antivirals.
  • Antimicrobial drugs are chemical substances of natural or synthetic origin that suppress the growth of, or destroy, micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi, helminths, protozoa and viruses.
  • Antimicrobial drug prescribing is a process in providing healthcare, and its performance measure must be based on a strong foundation of research showing that the process addressed by the measure, when performed correctly, leads to improved clinical outcomes.

American duo win Economics Nobel


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

U.S. economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Economics Prize

Key details

  • Nobel was given for work on commercial auctions, including for goods and services difficult to sell in traditional ways such as radio frequencies.
  • The duo was honoured “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats,”.
  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that the discoveries by Mr. Milgrom, and Mr. Wilson, “have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world,”.
  • Wilson’s work showed why rational bidders tend to bid under their own estimate of the worth due to worries over the “winner’s curse,” or winning the auction but paying too much.
  • Milgrom, also at Stanford, then came up with a more general theory of auctions, by analysing bidding strategies in different auction forms.

Auction theory

  • Auctions are characterized as transactions with a specific set of rules detailing resource allocation according to participants’ bids.
  • Auction theory is an applied branch of economics which deals with how people act in auction markets and researches the properties of auction markets.
  • There are many possible designs (or sets of rules) for an auction and typical issues studied by auction theorists include the efficiency of a given auction design, optimal and equilibrium bidding strategies, and revenue comparison.
  • Auction theory is also used as a tool to inform the design of real-world auctions; most notably auctions for the privatization of public-sector companies or the sale of licenses for use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Current Affairs

Recent Posts