UPSC, 17 Feb 2017 (Part 2), News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija

UPSC, 17 Feb 2017 (Part 2), News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija


News analysis (Part 2) and explanation of the main news reports appearing in newspapers of 15 February 2017 (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):

9 lakh accounts under scrutiny for suspicious deposits

  • Nearly 9 lakh accounts (half of the 18 lakh people under the I-T scanner for suspicious bank deposits post demonetisation) have been put in the doubtful category, but action against them will follow only after the new tax amnesty scheme ends on March 31.
  • Under “Operation Clean Money”, the Income Tax department had sent SMS and e-mails to 18 lakh people, who according to its data analysis had made suspicious deposits of over Rs. 5 lakh during the 50-day window provided to get rid of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes following the demonetisation decision announced on November 8, 2016. They were asked to clarify on the deposits and their source by February 15, 2017.
  • Out of these, now about 9 lakh accounts have been put in the doubtful category.
  • However, the IT department is likely to send formal notices and then wait till March 31 for the end of (tax amnesty scheme) PMGKY and then take action against doubtful cases.
  • Since Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) runs till March 31, action against any depositor can be taken only after the scheme closes as the depositor may choose to disclose the wealth and pay taxes.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY)

Under PMGKY, those with undisclosed income need to pay

  • 30% tax on undisclosed income,
  • 10% penalty and
  • 33% Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Cess on the tax (i.e., 33% cess on 30% tax, which is equivalent to about 10% on the undisclosed income).
  • Thus, a total of about 50% will be payable as tax + penalty.
  • In addition, the declarant must make mandatory deposit of 25% of undisclosed income in the zero-interest-rate Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, with lock-in period of 4 years.
  • Thus, under PMGKY, the person declaring his undisclosed will still be left with 25% income with him, and he will get back 25% deposit after 4 years without interest.
  • This scheme is open up to 31 March 2017.

Vikas Swarup India’s new High Commissioner to Canada

  • Senior Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and noted novelist Vikas Swarup will be the India’s High Commissioner to Canada, government said on Thursday.
  • He is currently working as Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
  • He is an IFS officer of 1986 batch.
  • The movie Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Oscar’s, was based on Vikas Swarup’s successful debut novel “Q&A”.
  • This novel, Q&A, tells the story of how a penniless waiter in Mumbai becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history. Critically acclaimed in India and abroad, this international best-seller has been translated into 43 different languages. It was shortlisted for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and won South Africa’s Exclusive Books Boeke Prize in 2006, as well as the Prix Grand Public at the 2007 Paris Book Fair. It was voted winner of the Best Travel Read (Fiction) at the Heathrow Travel Product Award 2009.

Fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) will be entirely new machine, says Russia

  • The fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) to be developed jointly by India and Russia will be an entirely new machine based on the Russian fifth generation jet which is already flying: said Victor N. Kladov, Director of International Cooperation and Regional Policy of Rostec, Russian state corporation.
  • The two countries are negotiating the contract.
  • “This is an entirely new project [FGFA] for building a new aircraft. We have designs and plans … but we cannot commit ourselves unless we see a willingness to continue [from India],” he said.
  • On the delay in concluding the contract, he observed that there were some deliberations within the Indian government on the project. “The ball is on the Indian side… we are waiting,” he said.
  • In 2010, India and Russia had signed a preliminary design agreement to jointly produce the FGFA for use by both the countries, after which each had invested $295 million for preliminary design. But despite several rounds of discussions, two countries have so far failed to reach a contract.
  • This year, India and Russia are likely to conclude several big-ticket deals worth billions of dollars. They include the S-400 long range air defence systems, Kamov-226T utility helicopters and additional Mi-17 helicopters.

India, Afghanistan take a hard line on Taliban at Moscow conference

  • India and Afghanistan took a hard line at the six-nation talks in Moscow on 15 Feb, opposing the dominant view from Russia, China and Pakistan to involve the Taliban in reconciliation efforts.
  • This 6 nation conference also includes Iran.
  • Indian stand has been that denying “safe havens or sanctuaries to any terrorist group or individual in countries of our region,” was essential to stabilising the situation in Afghanistan. Reconciliation efforts must be driven by the Afghanistan government and could only be facilitated by “friends and well wishers of Afghanistan”.
  • Without naming Pakistan, Afghanistan’s representative at the talks, M. Ashraf Haidari, who is the Director General of Policy and Strategy in the MFA, said that it was necessary to “effect a change in the behaviour of certain state actors” in order to end the violence that has reached record levels in the last year.
  • Referring to Pakistan’s stand on “good/bad Taliban” echoed by officials in Moscow, and the talks between China and Taliban officials last year, he said: “The key challenge to the process remains a policy selectivity by some to distinguish between good and bad terrorists, even though terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region, where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’ counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek.”

SC makes legal services affordable

  • The Supreme Court has introduced a self-supporting scheme for providing legal services to the middle and relatively lower income groups.
  • The “Middle Income Group Scheme” is meant to provide legal services to litigants in the Supreme Court whose gross income does not exceed ₹60,000 per month or ₹7.5 lakh per annum.
  • They can avail themselves of the services for a nominal amount.
  • As per the guidelines, cases can be filed before SC only through Advocates On Record.
  • A sum of ₹500 shall be payable initially to the SC MIG Legal Aid Society as service charges.
  • The applicant shall have to deposit the fee indicated by the Secretary of the Society, which will be in accordance with the schedule attached to the Scheme.

Two-state solution remains ‘only way’ for Israel-Palestine peace, insists UN

  • The two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis, the UN envoy for the West Asia peace process told the Security Council on Thursday.
  • US President Donald Trump had announced on 15 Feb that the U.S. would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict, in a break from Washington’s decades-old policy and from the international consensus on the peace process.
  • “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,” Mr. Trump had said.
  • The security council met to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a day after President Donald Trump made this statement.
  • Trump’s comments have triggered sharp responses from Muslim countries and organisations. Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Thursday resolving the conflict would require a two-state solution

Dassault, Reliance form JV for Rafale

  • Reliance Aerostructure Limited has incorporated a 51:49 joint venture with Dassault Aviation to capture a major share of the offset business arising from the €7.87 billion deal for Rafale fighter jets.
  • The joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL), will have Mr. Eric Trappier, Chairman of Dassault Aviation France, as its chairman and Mr. Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Group, as its co-chairman.
  • India and France have signed a purchase agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets for €7.87 billion in September 2016.
  • The contract includes a 50% offset obligation or about ₹30,000 crore, the largest ever offset contract in India.
  • DRAL will aim to grab a major share of this business, including components and parts.
  • The facility will come up at Dhirubhai Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur and the construction work on the greenfield facility will start in May 2017, according to a company statement.

Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:

This video discusses and explains the current affairs topics appearing in the newspapers and media (such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times, Press Information Bureau, etc.) of 15 February 2017. This is Part 2 video.

This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services). This lecture is also useful for aspirants of other competitive examinations, such as SSC, Bank PO, LIC, RBI Assistant, RBI Grade B, State Public Service Commission examinations like RPSC, UPPSC, MPSC, MPPSC, HCS, RAS, CLAT, Hotel Management entrance, BBA and several other examinations.

This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.


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