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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 11, 2020

Current Affair 1:
State Development Loans (SDLs)

We will try to connect points and make a bit story type so that you can remember points in Exam.

COVID-19 has put severe stress on the economy of the country affecting the tax revenues of both the centre & the states. But Central government is trying to improve the situation. The revenue sources of not only the Centre but also that of the states have been severely affected. Similar to the Centre, each of the states have their own budgeted expenses which they plan to meet through the various sources of revenues. Lesser revenue generation would mean that the states would not be able to finance their planed expenditure and implement various schemes.

What are the problems the states are facing due to COVID 19?

  1. The states try to bridge this deficit by seeking loans and other financing options from external sources. However, there is a statutory limit (3 percent) on the extent to which the states can borrow to ensure fiscal stability.
  2. In addition to devolution of central tax revenue and grants-in-aid, states generate a major share of their income from state level taxes which constitute the State’s own Tax Revenue (SOTR). In 2018-19, the shortfall in SOTR was 7.5% compared to budget estimates. This shortfall in the case of central taxes is around 9%.
  3. In 27 States/UTs, the GST collection between March & June 2020 fell by more than 25% compared to 2019.

As part of its 5th tranche of announcements of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package’, the Government of India has decided to allow the states to increase their borrowing limit from 3% to 5% of GSDP. This would allow states to go for external borrowings to generate additional resources at a time when the economy is going through a crisis. One of the key targets of FRBM Act (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003) was to limit the Fiscal deficit of the states to 3% of GSDP.

What is the status of deficit financing of States?

An analysis of Financing of this deficit (GFD) by the states as per the actual accounts submitted for 2017-18, indicate that around 84% of the GFD of the states is financed by Market Borrowings.

National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) and Central Government loans were the major options for state governments to seek the funds for deficit financing. In accordance with the recommendations of the 14th Finance commission, the government of India has approved discontinuation of states seeking loans through the high-cost NSSF.


 

This has encouraged the states to rely on State development loans (SDLs) (Market Borrowing) as major source of funds for deficit financing. Now we will learn about SDLs.

State Development Loans (SDLs) are dated securities issued by states for meeting their market borrowings requirements. In effect, the SDL are similar to the dated securities issued by the central government. Purpose of issuing State Development Loans is to meet the budgetary needs of state governments. Each state can borrow up to a set limit through State Development Loans.

SDL offers two main advantages which encourage investors to invest in them and help the state governments to raise the required market borrowings to meet the budgetary requirements.

  1. Higher yield
  2. SDLs are similar to Central Government Securities, and do not have Credit risks.

Most of the investors of SDLs are Commercial banks, Insurance companies etc. who are looking for a higher yield on investment.  Since 2014, the government has also allowed Foreign investments in SDLs.

SDLs qualify as approved SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio) security under Section 24 of Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

As we have discussed in starting paragraph that state is facing problem financing due to COVID-19. It has increased its dependence on State Development Loans (SDLs).

 

Current Affair 2:
Seagrasses

Seagrasses are found in shallow salty and brackish waters in many parts of the world, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle. Seagrasses are so-named because most species have long green, grass-like leaves. Seagrasses are marine flowering plants, found on all continents except Antarctica. They have roots, stems and leaves and produce flowers and fruits. The closest relatives to seagrass, on land, are the monocots – grasses, lilies and palms.

One thing to note is that seagrass is different from seaweed:

Even though seagrasses and seaweeds look superficially similar, they are very different organisms. Seagrasses belong to a group of plants called monocotyledons that include grasses, lilies and palms.


 

Where Are Seagrasses Found?

Seagrasses grow in salty and brackish (semi-salty) waters around the world, typically along gently sloping, protected coastlines. Because they depend on light for photosynthesis, they are most commonly found in shallow depths where light levels are high.

India, being in the Indo-Pacific region, has high seagrass diversity: 14 species belonging to 7 genera. The Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait house all the 14 species found in India, while the Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have 8 and 9 species respectively.

Growth & Reproduction

Seagrasses grow both vertically and horizontally—their blades reach upwards and their roots down and sideways—to capture sunlight and nutrients from the water and sediment. They spread by two methods: asexual clonal growth and sexual reproduction. Enough.

Ecosystem Benefits

Seagrasses are often called foundation plant species or ecosystem engineers because they modify their environments to create unique habitats. These modifications not only make coastal habitats more suitable for the seagrasses themselves, but also have important effects on other animals and provide ecological functions and a variety of services for humans.

  1. Modification of the Physical Environment:

Seagrasses are known as the "lungs of the sea" because one square meter of seagrass can generate 10 liters of oxygen every day through photosynthesis. Seagrass leaves also absorb nutrients and slow the flow of water, capturing sand, dirt and silt particles. Their roots trap and stabilize the sediment, which not only helps improve water clarity and quality, but also reduces erosion and buffers coastlines against storms.

  1. Creation of Living Habitat:

Seagrasses are often called nursery habitats because the leafy underwater canopy they create provides shelter for small invertebrates (like crabs and shrimp and other types of crustaceans), small fish and juveniles of larger fish species. Many species of algae and microalgae (such as diatoms), bacteria and invertebrates grow as “epiphytes” directly on living seagrass leaves, much like lichens and Spanish moss grow on trees.

  1. Blue Carbon:

Seagrasses are capable of capturing and storing a large amount of carbon from the atmosphere. It has been estimated that in this way the world's seagrass meadows can capture up to 83 million metric tons of carbon each year. Atmospheric carbon is captured by coastal mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes at a rate five times faster than tropical forests.

What are the main threats to seagrasses?

Seagrass meadows are experiencing rates of loss that may be as high as 7% of their total global area per year. The natural causes of seagrass destruction are cyclones, intensive grazing, fungal and other infestations and disease. Seagrasses in the intertidal habitat are prone to drying out. In estuaries, increased freshwater incursion and siltation can also destroy seagrass beds.

However, the most significant threat is (you guessed it) from human activities. Large amounts of pollutants, including chemicals and excessive nutrients like fertilisers wash off the coast and directly into seagrass beds, causing algal blooms that can block off sunlight. Sediments can choke the leaves and dredging can completely fragment seagrass meadows. Boat anchors and large marine debris can kill sections of seagrass meadows.

 

Current Affair 3:
Planet-Sized Sunspot Confirms New Solar Cycle

Source Link

Astrophysicists have reported that solar cycle 25 has begun, indicating a new 11-year-long period of electromagnetic activity on the Sun. In each cycle, the Sun’s magnetic north and south poles switch places. Stargazers have reported increasing activity on the Sun’s surface as well, which is to be expected.

But some news reports have also been accompanied by anxiety about solar flares – extremely energetic bursts of radiation from the Sun – that could disrupt electromagnetic phenomena on Earth, including radio transmissions and AC currents. The reports are concerned with one particular cluster of sunspots, designated AR2770.

AR2770 is said to have emitted a number of B-class flares, the lowest class of solar flares, which have sent minor waves of ionization through Earth's atmosphere. However, the spot is growing, and increased activity is possible over the next few days that may produce more intense solar flares.

Also learn about SUNSPOTS:

Sunspots form on the surface of the Sun due to strong magnetic field lines coming up from within the Sun trough the solar surface and appear visibly as dark spots compared to their surroundings.

These sunspots which can become many times bigger than the Earth are always dark because they are much cooler than the surrounding surface of the Sun itself. A big sunspot can have a temperature of 3700°C. This sounds like much but if we compare this with the temperature of the photosphere of the Sun which is about 5500°C, then you see that there is a considerable difference.

Sunspots are a common sight on our Sun during the years around solar maximum. Solar maximum or solar max is the period of greatest solar activity in the solar cycle of the Sun, where one solar cycle lasts about 11 years. Around solar minimum, only very few or even no sunspots can be found.

A sunspot consists of two parts:

  1. The dark part (umbra)
  2. Lighter part around the dark part (penumbra)

Rotation of Sunspots:

The Sun rotates around its axis just like Earth does. Solar features on the Sun like sunspot regions follow the rotation of the Sun. This means that a sunspot region travels across the solar disk from east to west as seen from Earth. This is important because sunspot regions need to be close to the central meridian (as seen from Earth) in order to be able to send coronal mass ejection towards Earth. It takes a sunspot region near the equator about 2 weeks to move from the east limb to west limb as seen from Earth. The further away a sunspot region is from the equator the longer it takes move across the face of the Sun. This is because the Sun rotates faster at its equator than at its poles.

 

Current Affair 4:
Council of Architecture (Minimum Standards of Architectural Education) Regulations Notified

Source Link

Council of Architecture (Minimum Standards of Architectural Education) Regulations, 2020 have been notified recently. These Regulations shall come into force from the 1st day of November 2020 and would supersede 1983 Regulations.

Only two things you have to remember here:

  1. Who is entitled to impose any regulatory measure in connection with the degrees and diplomas in the subject of architecture?
  2. About Council of Architecture (COA),

Now proceed for news.

Last year, the Supreme Court had held that All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will not be entitled to impose any regulatory measure in connection with the degrees and diplomas in the subject of architecture. Norms and Regulations set by Council of Architecture and other specified authorities under the Architects Act would have to be followed by an institution imparting education for degrees and diplomas in architecture.

Minimum criteria: Just give one reading. Not important.

As per the new Regulations,

  1. the Architecture course shall be of minimum duration of 5 academic years or 10 semesters of 15 to 18 working weeks (90 workdays) each.
  2. A candidate to the course should pass an examination at the end of the 10+2 scheme of examination with at least 50 per cent. aggregate marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and also at least 50 per cent. marks in aggregate of the 10+2 level examination or passed 10+3 Diploma Examination with Mathematics as compulsory subject with at least 50 per cent. marks in aggregate.
  3. The candidate also needs to qualify an Aptitude Test in Architecture conducted by the Council.
  4. The Regulations also deal with Intake and Migration, Courses and periods of studies, Professional examination, Standards of proficiency and conditions of admissions, qualification of examiners, Standards of staff, equipment, accommodation, training and other facilities for Architecture education.

About Council of Architecture (COA)

These Rules have been notified by the Council of Architecture (COA), a body constituted by the Government of India under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972. The Act provides for registration of Architects, standards of education, recognized qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by the practicing architects. The Council of Architecture is charged with the responsibility to regulate the education and practice of profession throughout India besides maintaining the register of architects. For this purpose, the Government of India has framed Rules and Council of Architecture has framed Regulations as provided for in the Architects Act, with the approval of Government of India.

 

Current Affair 5:
Mauritius oil spill

Source Link

The island of Mauritius has declared a ‘state of environmental emergency’ after a grounded vessel began leaking tonnes of oil into the Indian Ocean.

The MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned and Panama-registered ship that was travelling from China to Brazil ran aground a reef at Pointe d’Esny in the southeastern part of Mauritius on July 25, 2020. A crack in the ship’s hull caused it to leak in the past week. The ship was carrying 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil, of which more than 1,000 tonnes has already leaked into the ocean. Now, the remaining 2,500 tonnes remaining on board the vessel threatens to leak as well as the ship is breaking apart.

How it is affecting biodiversity?

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the south-east coast of the African continent that is known to have some of the world's finest coral reefs and marine life. The oil spill will not only affect marine life of Mauritius but could also impact neighbouring islands and their marine life including that of Maldives and Lakshadweep as the ocean systems are connected through currents.

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