Daily Current Affairs for 16th October 2020

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GST: Centre to borrow for state


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

Why in news?

The Centre on made a departure from its stance that States should undertake market borrowings to bridge the ₹1.1 lakh crore of GST compensation shortfall this year.

Key details

  • The Centre stated that the Government of India will now undertake the required borrowings in tranches and pass it on to States as a ‘back-to-back loan’ that will reflect on their own books.
  • The move may break the impasse between the Centre and States over the issue of borrowings to recompense the latter, with consensus remaining elusive despite extensive parleys over three meetings of the GST Council.
  • Under the Special Window, the estimated shortfall of ₹1.1 lakh cr (assuming all States join) will be borrowed by Government of India in appropriate tranches.
  • The amount so borrowed will be passed on to the States as a back-to-back loan in lieu of GST Compensation Cess releases.


  • Recently, 21 States and Union Territories such as Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to the Centre’s proposal that States undertake the borrowings to meet the GST compensation shortfall, with principal and interest repayments to be paid from future GST cess collections.
  • States such as Kerala and West Bengal, which had been insistent on the Centre undertaking the borrowings, had begun preparing to move the apex court over the matter.
  • In its original proposal put up at the GST Council meeting in August, the Centre said the shortfall on account of GST implementation will be borrowed by States through issue of debt under a Special Window coordinated by the Finance Ministry.

Impact of Borrowing on centre

  • This borrowing, to be conducted through a special window, won’t affect the Centre’s fiscal deficit or expand general government debt.
  • The finance ministry said this is being done to ensure that States won’t have to pay different interest rates for these borrowings. This will also be an administratively easier arrangement.

Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017

  • The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 27, 2017. The Bill provides for compensation to states for any loss in revenue due to the implementation of GST.
  • Compensation will be provided to a state for a period of five years from the date on which the state brings its State GST Act into force.
  • For the purpose of calculating the compensation amount in any financial year, year 2015-16 will be assumed to be the base year, from revenue will be projected. The growth rate of revenue for a state during the five-year period is assumed be 14% per annum.
  • The compensation payable to a state has to be provisionally calculated and released at the end of every two months. Further, an annual calculation of the total revenue will be undertaken, which will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

GST Compensation cess

  • A GST Compensation Cess may be levied on the supply of certain goods and services, as recommended by the GST Council.
  • The receipts from the cess will be deposited to a GST Compensation Fund. The receipts will be used for compensating states for any loss due to the implementation of GST.
  • Any unutilised money in the Compensation Fund at the end of the compensation period will be distributed in the following manner:

(i) 50% of the fund to be shared between the states in proportion to revenues of the states, and (ii) the remaining 50% will be part of the centre’s divisible pool of taxes.

J&K parties team up for restoring special status


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

Why in news?

National Conference (NC) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah, chairing a meeting of around six regional political parties, announced a new grouping named ‘Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’, comprising all the parties that signed the Gupkar Declaration on August 4 last year “to fight for J&K’s special status”.

What is Gupkar Declaration

  • The first Gupkar Declaration was a resolution issued after an all-party meeting on 4 August, 2019 at the Gupkar Road residence of the NC president
  • The Declaration was signed by six political parties, including Congress, just a day before the abrogation of J&K’s special status.
  • It called for a joint fight to “safeguard J&K’s special status, Article 370 and 35A”.
  • The declaration, in essence, will be a common agreement to collectively fight against the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

What it stated

  • It stated that the parties unanimously resolved to be united in their effort to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts.
  • The joint statement read, “We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of J&K and the restoration of the state and any division of the state is unacceptable to us. We unanimously reiterate that there can be nothing about us without us.”


  • On 5Th August 2019, the Centre imposed strict curfew and communication blockade in the erstwhile state and revoked its special status.
  • The centre scrapped Article 35A that provided certain special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Almost all the political leaders and activists in the state were rounded up and confined to state facilities, while others were kept under house arrest.

Article 370

  • Last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution, which provides a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In October 1947, the then Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed an Instrument of Accession that specified three subjects on which Jammu & Kashmir would transfer its power to the government of India:
  1. Foreign Affairs
  2. Defence
  3. Communication
  • In March 1948, the Maharaja appointed an interim government in the state, with Sheikh Abdullah as prime minister.
  • In July 1949, Sheikh Abdullah and three other colleagues joined the Indian Constituent Assembly and negotiated the special status of J&K, leading to the adoption of Article 370.
  • The controversial provision was drafted by Sheikh Abdullah.

Provisions of article 370

  • Parliament needs the Jammu & Kashmir government’s approval for applying laws in the state — except in cases of defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communications.
  • The law of citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights of the residents of Jammu & Kashmir is different from the residents living in rest of India.
  • Under Article 370, citizens from other states cannot buy property in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare a financial emergency in the state.

Zoo revives scheme for animal adoption


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

Why in news?

The Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) in Bhubaneswar, which suffered a huge loss following its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has revived its innovative ‘Adopt-An-Animal’ programme to mobilise resources for animals.

Key details

  • More than 100 organisations and individuals have come forward to adopt animals, pledging ₹22 lakh
  • When one adopts an animal or a bird, the contribution goes to its care, feeding, enclosure enrichment and renovation.
  • The adoption scheme would bring public, corporate bodies and institutions closer to the zoo and heighten their love and passion for captive animals and birds.
  • The NZP earns in the range of ₹15 crore-₹17 crore from entry passes and outsourcing of boating and parking facilities every year. With a minimum of ₹50 lakh required per month for the upkeep of animals, the zoo faced huge hardships due to the loss of revenue following the closure.

Adoption Scheme

  • The zoo authorities came up with the scheme urging animal lovers to provide funds from ₹500 to ₹2.5 lakh. In lieu, a ‘Thank You’ in the form of an adoption certificate, a plaque in the zoo and income tax rebates are available to individuals and organisations.
  • They are hopeful that ₹1 crore can be generated through adoption. The highest of ₹2.5 lakh per annum has been fixed to adopt an elephant, while ₹1.5 lakh is required for a melanistic tiger.
  • Similarly, people can adopt the Asiatic lion and the Royal Bengal Tiger for ₹1 lakh per annum.

The Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP)

  • The NZP is one of the leading zoos in the country in terms of its fauna population and species diversity. It had received a record 32 lakh footfall three years ago.
  • Nandankanan Zoological Park is a zoo and botanical garden in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
  • It was established in 1960 and was opened to the public in 1979 and became the first zoo in India to join World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2009.
  • It also contains a botanical garden and part of it has been declared a sanctuary.
  • Nandankanan, literally meaning The Garden of Heaven, is located near the capital city, Bhubaneswar, in the environs of the Chandaka forest, and includes the Kanjia lake.
  • The zoo is home to about 1660 individual animals representing 166 species


  • Endangered species such as the Asiatic lion, three Indian crocodiles, Sangal lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Indian pangolin, mouse deer and countless birds, reptiles and fish have been breeding successfully at Nandankanan.
  • White Tigers
  • To help involve the general public in animal conservation and raise money, the zoo started the Adopt-an-Animal programme in 2008 for all of its animals.

U.S warship in Taiwan Strait enrages China


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

Why in news?

A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what the American military described as a “routine” passage, but enraging China, which claims sovereignty over the island and surrounding seas.

Key details

  • Ties between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated in recent months, over issues including trade and Hong Kong, with the self-ruled island of Taiwan a long-running source of tension.
  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Strait.
  • The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • Any U.S. Navy operations in the Taiwan Strait, which separates China from the island, provoke a strong response from Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be an inviolable part of its territory.


  • The island has been governed separately since the end of a civil war in China in 1949.
  • Taiwan has its own flag, currency and military, but it is not recognised as an independent nation by the United Nations.
  • Washington ended its diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 in order to improve ties with China, but the U.S. remains the island’s most powerful ally and its main arms supplier.
  • The political status of Taiwan remains uncertain. The Republic of China(ROC) is no longer a member of the UN, having been replaced by the PRC in 1971.
  • Taiwan is claimed by the PRC, which refuses diplomatic relations with countries that recognise the ROC.
  • Taiwan maintains official ties with 14 out of 193 UN member states and the Holy See.
  • International organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only on a non-state basis.
  • Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asian Development Bank under various names.

Taiwan- China relations

  • Relationship between Taiwan and China is complex and controversial due to the dispute on the political status of Taiwan after the administration of Taiwan was transferred from Japan at the end of World War II in 1945 and the subsequent split of China in 1949 as a result of civil war.
  • It hinges on two key questions: whether the two entities are two separate countries (either as “Taiwan” and “China” or Two Chinas: “Republic of China” and “People’s Republic of China”) or two “regions” or parts of the same country (i.e. “One China”) with rivaling governments.
  • In 1949, with the Chinese Civil War turning decisively in favour of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Republic of China government led by the Kuomintang (KMT) retreated to Taiwan and established the provisional capital in Taipei, while the CPC proclaimed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing.
  • No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed and debate continues as to whether the civil war has legally ended.

South China Sea Dispute

  • The dispute involves the overlapping claims of six governments to territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, encompasses the main sea lines of communication that connect Southeast Asia with Northeast Asia, covers large fishing grounds and may contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas.
  • China has pursued a strategy of delaying the resolution of the dispute.
  • The goal of this strategy is to consolidate China’s claims, especially to maritime rights or jurisdiction over these waters, and to deter other states from strengthening their own claims at China’s expense, including resource development projects that exclude China.
  • The South China Sea disputes involve both island and maritime claims among several sovereign states within the region, namely Brunei, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan), Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • The disputes include the islands, reefs, banks, and other features of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal, and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • There are further disputes, including the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard as part of the South China Sea.
  • Since 2013, the People’s Republic of China has resorted to island building in the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands region.
  • These actions have been met with a wide international condemnation, and since 2015 the United States and other states such as France and the United Kingdom have conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) in the region.

TV rating agency BARC suspends ratings for news channels


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

Why in News?

Television rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) announced the suspension of audience estimates and ratings for news channels for the next three months, while the Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology has suggested that the present method of data collection is outdated and should be replaced with newer technological innovations.

Key Details:

  • The decision was taken after the BARC Board directed its technical committee to “review and augment” the current standards of measuring and reporting data.
  • The step is taken to improve “statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes”.
  • This exercise, a statement from BARC said, would cover all Hindi, regional and English news and business news channels with immediate effect.
  • “Starting with the ‘News Genre’, BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise.
  • This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Technical committee.
  • BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language,” a BARC India statement read.

Need for the move

  • Given the most recent developments, the BARC Board was of the opinion that a pause was necessitated to enable the industry.
  • There is a need for the BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols.
  • It is necessary to augment for the TV industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness.


  • Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India is a joint industry body founded by stakeholder bodies that represent Broadcasters (IBF), Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising & Media Agencies (AAAI).
  • It is also the world’s largest television measurement science industry-body.
  • BARC India owns and manages a transparent, accurate, and inclusive TV audience measurement system.
  • Apart from the currency products to the TV industry, BARC India also provides a suite of Insight products designed for broadcasters, advertisers and agencies.
  • The Big Data and Insights generated by BARC India powers efficient media spends and content decisions in a highly dynamic and growing television sector.
  • currently being scaled up to 180,000 individuals, BARC India is also the largest measurement company of its kind in the world.
  • It uses Audio Watermarking technology to measure viewership of TV channels, and the system also allows measurement of time-shifted viewing and simulcasts.
  • The company was incorporated in 2010 and is based in Mumbai, India.

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