IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th February, 2020


Following SC rap, telcos asked to pay AGR dues immediately


Court order:

-       Ordered the managing directors and directors of companies, including telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for failing to pay even a “single penny” to the government in Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues, worth Rs. 1.47 lakh crores.

-       Called the non-compliance with the Supreme Court judgment a “very disturbing scenario”.

-       It also drew contempt proceedings against a Department of Telecom (DoT) officer responsible for issuing an order to the Accountant General, a constitutional authority, on January 23, 2020, to desist from taking any coercive action against the defaulting companies.

-       Failure to comply with the orders would entail company heads appearing in person in court at the next hearing on March 17.

Government action:

-       The DoT began issuing notices to the telcos to pay the AGR dues as early as midnight of February 14.

About AGR:

-       Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre.

-       Revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.

-       According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.

-       The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.



Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/following-sc-rap-telcos-asked-to-pay-agr-dues-immediately/article30826115.ece


SC lifts Delhi-NCR construction ban

Court Order:

-       Completely lifted the ban on construction and demolition in Delhi-NCR after putting a stop on such activities for over three months.

-       As ban has served its purpose and there has been a significant improvement in air quality.

-       The ban was partially eased on December 9 and the court had allowed incomplete construction activities to resume during the daytime.

Rationale of decision:

-       Central Pollution Control board summited an affidavit that air quality in Delhi has improved.

-       Earlier, court ordered that municipal authorities in Delhi and NCR, including zonal commissioners and their deputies, would be personally held responsible for violation of the construction ban.

About Central Pollution Control Board:

-       The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

-       Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

-       Major Functions:

(i) To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution

(ii) To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/sc-lifts-delhi-ncr-construction-ban-completely/article30826306.ece

Scientists radio-tag Indian pangolin

Scientists have, for the first time, radio-tagged the Indian pangolin, an endangered animal that is rarely sighted in forests.

About Indian Pangolin:

-       Indian Pangolin is a large anteater covered dorsally by 11-13 rows of scales.

-       Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as “Endangered” on IUCN Red List.

-       Major threats to pangolins in India are hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade.

-       TRAFFIC is mapping pangolin trade hubs, conduits, transportation, high poaching areas and drivers in relation to poaching and illegal trafficking of pangolins.


-       TRAFFIC is a leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

-       It was founded in 1976 as a strategic alliance of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

-       The organisation's aim is to ‘ensure that trade in wild plants and animals are not a threat to the conservation of nature’.

About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau:

-       Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.

-       It was institutionalised Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/scientists-radio-tag-indian-pangolin/article30826039.ece


Proposal on structure of Department of Military Affairs sent to Defence Ministry

Proposed structure of Department of Military affairs (DMA):

-       Proposed DMA will have a Secretary, Transformation and Coordination, which will be the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), an Additional Secretary and five Joint Secretaries.

-       The Additional Secretary will be a three-star officer while the Joint Secretaries include three officers, one from each service of the rank of Major General or equivalent.

-       All revenue procurements are totally with the DMA and financial powers of Defence Secretary will now go to the Secretary, DMA.

-       While capital procurements remain with the Department of Defence (DoD) headed by the Defence Secretary.

-       Prioritisation of all capital procurement remains with DMA.

-       The role of the DMA is scrutiny and the role of the IDS is “jointness”.

-       Military diplomacy has been moved to the DMA, while defence diplomacy remains with the DoD.

Mandate of DMA:

-       Promoting jointness in procurement

-       Training and staffing for the Services

-       Facilitating a restructuring of the military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands

-       Promoting the use of indigenous equipment.


European Union calls for swift end to all curbs in Kashmir

EU observations:

-       Called for a swift removal of communication and political restrictions in Kashmir.

-       It is in touch with the Indian authorities for a continuing dialogue on the situation in Kashmir.

-       Some restrictions remain, notably on Internet access and mobile services.

-       Some political leaders are still in detention.

-       EU recognised the serious security concerns, but argued that the remaining restrictions are to be lifted swiftly.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/european-union-calls-for-swift-end-to-all-curbs-in-kashmir/article30826117.ece

Big setback if India and U.S. can’t agree on trade deal now, says top U.S. diplomat Alice Wells

-       U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer cancelling his trip this week to India cast doubt on whether a mini trade deal could be completed before the February 24 visit of Mr Trump.

-       If a “tiny phase 1 trade deal” with the U.S. President visiting India could not be achieved, it would be a “big setback”.

-       U.S. would like to have “a lot more ambitions” for making India part of the global supply chain, but US has certain concerns:

-       Taxes levied on medical devices in this budget

-       Draft e-commerce policy released in 2019.

-       U.S. President is aware that India is not interested in mediation but that Mr. Trump is “genuinely interested” in how India and Pakistan are managing tensions.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/big-setback-if-india-and-us-cant-agree-on-trade-deal-now-says-top-us-diplomat-alice-wells/article30824248.ece