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GoalTide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Current Affair 1:
Market Borrowings of State Governments increased

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Data from the RBI indicates that the combined Market Borrowings of State Governments increased by 57% during the first half of 2020-21 compared to the same period in 2019-20.

In its latest ‘Nowcast’ Report, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stated that India has entered a technical recession, on the back of contraction in the economy in two successive quarters. It is estimated that India’s GDP contracted by 8.6% in Q2 of the financial year 2020-21, reflecting the state of Indian economy affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures.

A contraction in the economy implies that there is a fall in the revenue of individuals and businesses, which in turn has an impact on the earnings of the governments – both central and the states. The Centre’s inability to pay GST compensation due to the states, is a result of the fall in expected GST revenues.

Now how it impact states, if centre not able to pay?

Delays in receipt of GST compensation from the Centre puts further strain on revenues of State Governments who have the challenges of their own in managing the fiscal deficit due to the fall in the State’s Own Tax Revenues (SOTR).

The Centre has initially proposed that the States borrow from the RBI in lieu of GST compensation, which was opposed by many of the states.

One of the reasons is the fact that the States have already been borrowing through various sources to bridge the revenue deficit and did not want to borrow further. Nevertheless, the Central government has recently announced that it would borrow from the RBI on behalf of states.

For many years, the State Governments have been financing their deficits through ‘Market Borrowings’. More recently, a major portion of the Market borrowings were through State Development Loans (SDLs). Today, we take a look at the trends in Market borrowings by state governments during the first six months of the current financial year, which would throw light on the financial burden on the States due to COVID-19 lockdown and its aftermath.

Market borrowings of the States up by 57% during the first half of 2020-21

As per the information provided by RBI as part of its Monthly Bulletin for November’ 2020, the combined Gross Market borrowings of all the State Governments during the first half of 2020-21 i.e. April- September’2020 was more than Rs. 3.53 lakh crores. During the same period in 2019-20 i.e. April-September’2019, the combined Market Borrowings of all the State Governments was Rs. 2.25 lakh crores indicating that the market borrowings of the states increased by 57% in 2020-21.

Trends of states in Borrowing:

While there is an increase in the overall market borrowings of the State Governments during April-September’2020 compared to same period of last year, there are variances in the Market borrowings of individual states.

  1. The highest volume of borrowing during the first half of 2020-21 was by Maharashtra with Rs. 48.5 thousand crores. This is more than triple the state’s borrowings during the same period last year where it was Rs. 14.5 thousand crores.
  2. Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu in terms of the volume of Market Borrowings during the first half of 2020-21, with Rs. 48 thousand crores.
  3. The most significant increase when compared to the Market borrowings of last year during the period of April-September is in case of Karnataka. During the first half of 2019-20, Karnataka State government had Market borrowings to the tune of Rs. 5 thousand crores which increased nearly 6 times with Market borrowings of Rs. 29 thousand crores during the first half of 2020-21.

If the overall trend of higher market borrowings during the second half of the financial year continues, we might be looking at an almost 60% increase in the market borrowings of states in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20. This will complicate & weaken the fiscal position of the states. The delay in GST compensation & other dues from the centre may also add to the woes of state governments.

Current Affair 2:
G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance

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Introduction:

As the world urbanizes, sustainable development and economic growth depend increasingly on the successful management of urban growth. With the right technology — and the know-how to govern it — cities can lead the way in solving problems in energy, transportation, healthcare, education, and natural disaster response while making their communities more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.

Established in June 2019, the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance unites municipal, regional and national governments, private-sector partners and cities’ residents around a shared set of principles for the responsible and ethical use of smart city technologies. The Alliance establishes and advances global policy norms to help accelerate best practices, mitigate potential risks, and foster greater openness and public trust. The World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, serves as the secretariat for the Alliance.

Four Indian cities are part of this alliance:

 

 

Current Affair 3:
India’s First Green Energy Convergence Project

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Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed a memorandum of understanding today to discuss rolling out of India’s first Convergence Project in the State.

Convergence Project of EESL:

  1. It focuses on energy solutions that lie at the confluence of renewable energy, electric mobility, and climate change.
  2. It seeks to connect seemingly independent sectors like Solar Energy, Energy Storage, and LED lights to provide solutions, which can enable in decarbonization and affordable energy access.

Mechanism:

  1. EESL is offering convergent interventions, which solve multiple gap areas in the energy ecosystem.
  2. Solutions such as solarized agriculture feeders, LED streetlights in local villages, and battery energy storage systems.
  3. Leveraging the carbon financing mechanism to rapidly strengthen rural infrastructure in a clean and sustainable manner, and to create a resilient and sustainable rural community in India.
  4. EESL’s climate financing interventions currently include Gram UJALA, Decentralized Solar, and Gram Panchayat Street Lights programs.

Benefits of the Project:

  1. Promote Renewable Energy: It will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.
  2. Energy Efficient: Contribute to the reduction of peak energy demand through the deployment of energy-efficient pumping and lighting thus contributing to overall sustainability.
  3. Improve Health of DISCOMs: Accrue savings of Rs 2,574 crores to the State over a period of 25 years, while improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
  4. Check Technical Losses: Provide clean day time electricity to farmers as well as energy-efficient pump sets which would reduce the power consumption as well as T&D (Transmission and Distribution Losses) losses associated with transmitting power to agriculture and rural feeder networks.

About EESL

A joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) was set up under the Ministry of Power to facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency projects. EESL is a Super Energy Service Company (ESCO) that seeks to unlock energy efficiency market in India, estimated to at Rs. 74,000 crore that can potentially result in energy savings of up to 20 percent of current consumption, by way of innovative business and implementation models. It also acts as the resource center for capacity building of State DISCOMs, ERCs, SDAs, upcoming ESCOs, financial institutions, etc.

Current Affair 4:
Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM)

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It is an air defence system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in association with Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited for the Indian Army Salient feature:

  1. All-weather, all-terrain surface-to-air missile equipped with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars.
  2. The missile can be mounted on a truck and is stored in a canister.
  3. It has been developed to replace the 'Akash' missile defence system and has 360-degree coverage.
  4. The missile is propelled by a single-stage solid-propellant rocket motor and uses all indigenous subsystems.
  5. Range of 30 km.
  6. The missile is equipped with a midcourse inertial navigation system with a two-way data link and a DRDO-developed terminal active seeker.
  7. The system has the capability to search and track targets while moving

QRSAM Weapon Systems is being inducted into the Indian Army (IA).

Current Affair 5:
Scientists Find Microplastics Pollution on Mount Everest

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Mount Everest, known in Nepal and China as Sagarmatha and Qomolangma, respectively, has the highest peak in the world at 8,850 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level)

Scientists have discovered microplastic pollution in snow near the peak of Mount Everest according to new study. Although increasing numbers of visitors have immensely boosted the local economy, the negative impacts of tourism on Mt. Everest are becoming apparent and have been noted for several years.

While concerns around plastic pollution and littering on the Everest have been raised before, the new study is among the first to assess the extent of microplastic pollution.

 

Scientists found microplastics – tiny plastic fibers – within a few hundred metres of the world’s highest mountain, at a spot called the balcony, located at 27,500 feet, just a few hours climb from Everest’s summit.

One reason the scientists cited for the high concentration of microplastics was the presence of trekkers and mountaineers who camped in the area and usually carried clothing, tents, and other mountaineering gear, which likely shed these fibres.

Scientists have previously found traces of microplastics in some of the most remote regions of the planet – including in ice cores drilled in the Arctic and in the deepest point in the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, as well as in the stomachs of deep sea creatures.

Another striking conclusion from the current study is that the Khumbu Glacier, the highest glacier in the world, has lost nearly a fourth of its volume since 1962.

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