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24th January Current Affairs

The nuts and bolts of a Union Budget

(GS-III: Government Budgeting)

In News:

On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget for the next financial year (2023-24). Let’s understand the basics of the Union Budget and why it is very much important for Prelims and Mains.

Constitutional Provisions:

According to Article 112 of the Indian Constitution, the Union Budget for a year is referred to as the Annual Financial Statement (AFS).

It is a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditures of the Government in a Financial Year.

The Budget Division of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance is the nodal body responsible for preparing the Budget.

Any budget essentially provides some details:

The total amount of money that the government will raise in the coming year; this is called the total receipts, Ways and means to raise the revenue.

The total amount of money it will spend; is called the total expenditure.

The total amount of money it will borrow from the market to plug the gap between what it spends and what it earns; this is referred to as the fiscal deficit.

Details of the actual receipts and expenditure of the closing financial year and the reasons for any deficit or surplus in that year, and

The economic and financial policy of the coming year, i.e., taxation proposals, prospects of revenue, spending programme and introduction of new schemes/projects.

Forces that shape a Budget:

Demand for a lower rate of taxation and/or a higher rate of exemptions. In other words, people and firms lobby to get their tax burden reduced.

Demands from people/firms wanting higher or newer subsidies.

Demands which are antagonistic to the first two categories. They demand that the government cuts down on its fiscal deficit (essentially the total amount of money the government borrows from the market in order to bridge the gap between its total expenditure and its total receipts).

In Parliament, the Budget goes through six stages:

  • Presentation of Budget.
  • General discussion.
  • Scrutiny by Departmental Committees.
  • Voting on Demands for Grants.
  • Passing an Appropriation Bill.
  • Passing of Finance Bill.

Buddhist monastery complex at Bharatpur

In News:

Recent excavations at Bharatpur in West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district have revealed the presence of a Buddhist monastery.

Findings from the previous excavations (between 1972 and 1975):

A large Buddhist stupa was found

Black and red ware pottery from the Chalcolithic Age

Five beautiful seated sculptures of the Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra — with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground — were found.

About Buddhist stupa:

A Buddhist stupa is a commemorative monument usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha.

About Bhumisparsh Mudra:

It symbolizes the Buddha’s enlightenment under the bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment.

About Chalcolithic Period:

The Chalcolithic or Copper Age is the transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. It is taken to begin around the mid-5th millennium BC and ends with the beginning of the Bronze Age proper, in the late 4th to 3rd millennium BC, depending on the region.

Andaman Islands after Param Vir Chakra recipients

In News:

PM Modi named the 21 largest unnamed islands of Andaman & Nicobar Islands after India’s 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees.

Details:

The ceremony was organised on the occasion of Parakram Diwas, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary

Previously, Ross Island was renamed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep by PM Modi during his visit to the Island in 2018.

About Param Vir Chakra:

The Param Vir Chakra is India’s highest military decoration, awarded for displaying distinguished acts of valour during wartime. Param Vir Chakra translates as the “Wheel of the Ultimate Brave”, and the award is granted for “most conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy”. It was 1st awarded in 1947 and last awarded in 1999.

About Subhas Chandra Bose:

Personal:

Birth: He was born on 23rd January 1897, in Cuttack

He was highly influenced by Vivekananda’s teachingsand considered him his spiritual Guru.

His political mentor was Chittaranjan Das.

Freedom struggle

Newspapers: Chittaranjan Das’s newspaper ‘Forward’ (as Editor) and his own newspaper, Swaraj.

Slogans: ‘Jai Hind’, ‘Give me blood and I will give you freedom’, ‘Chalo Dilli’, ‘Itmad (Faith), Ittefaq (Unity) and Kurbani (Sacrifice)

Bose was the first person to address Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation

He opposed the Motilal Nehru Report (dominion status for India) and wanted complete independence.

Became congress president at Haripura in 1938.

He founded a new party, ‘the Forward Bloc’ (to consolidate the political left in Bengal)

Indian National Army: He announced the formation of the Azad Hind Governmentand the Indian National Army on 21st October 1943.

The INA was first formed under Mohan Singh and Japanese Major Iwaichi Fujiwara and comprised Indian prisoners of war of the British-Indian Army captured by Japan in the Malayan campaign and at Singapore.

Other Honors in his name:

Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar(disaster management)

His birthday is celebrated as ‘Parakram Diwas’on 23rd January.

Switzerland is the first WTO member to formally accept the new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

In News:

Switzerland has become the first WTO member to formally submit its acceptance of the WTO’s new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, paving the way for the historic agreement for ocean sustainability to enter into force.

Acceptance of 2/3rd of WTO members is needed for the agreement to come into effect

The Agreement was adopted at WTO’s conference in Geneva (2022)

It is the 1st WTO agreement (for the environment) and the 2nd agreement reached at WTO since its inception.

What will Fisheries subsidies do?

It will prohibit subsidies from being provided for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, fishing in high seas and overfished stocks.

Transition Period Allowance: Developing Countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been allowed a transition period of two yearsfrom the date of entry into force of this Agreement.

Fund for developing and least-developed countries: For technical assistance and capacity building

Exempted Areas:

No prohibition if the WTO Member is not carrying out IUU.

No prohibition on providing subsidies if subsidies are implemented to rebuild the stock to a biologically sustainable level.

India’s Stand:

By the principle of ‘Common but differentiated responsibilities’ developed countries (who have provided huge subsidies in the past) should take more responsibilities.

India is the third-largest fish-producing country in the world

India aims to achieve a target of producing 22 million metric tonnes of fish by 2024-25.

Benefits: It will check large-scale IUU fishing which deprives coastal countries like India of fisheries resources, thereby significantly impacting the livelihoods of our fishing communities.

Indian government initiatives:

Five major Fishing Harbours (Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Petuaghat) developed; Seaweed Park (Tamil Nadu);  Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana; Palk Bay Scheme; Marine Fisheries Bill, 2021.