1st February Current Affairs
February 1, 2022
3rd February Current Affairs
February 3, 2022
Show all

2nd February Current Affairs

Highlights of the Union Budget 2022

(GS-III: Government Budgeting)

In News:

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 presented a budget worth Rs 39.45 lakh crore with massive push to infrastructure spending.

Highlights of the 2022 budget:

Total spending and Focus:

To enhance job creation and boost economic activity.

Total government spending will be 4.6 per cent more than the current year and additional support of Rs 1 lakh crore to states has been announced.

The total expenditure in 2022-23 is estimated at Rs 39.45 lakh crore, while the total receipts other than borrowings are estimated at Rs 22.84 lakh crore.

The outlay for capital expenditure is once again being stepped up sharply by 35.4 per cent from Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the current year to Rs 7.50 lakh crore in 2022-23.

Few observations about the State of the economy:

The government projects India’s economy to grow by 9.2 per cent in the current fiscal year.

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in dollar terms has already crossed $3 trillion.

Fiscal deficit is projected to be higher at 6.9 per cent this fiscal as against 6.8 per cent estimated earlier. The fiscal deficit of the government for 2022-23 is estimated to be Rs 16,61,196 crore.

Soaring inflation levels continue to be a cause of concern for the economy.

Foreign exchange reserves stood at $634.287 billion on January 21, providing a cover equivalent to 13 months of imports projected for 2021-22.

What’s in the budget for infrastructure development?

PM GatiShakti National Master Plan will encompass the seven engines for economic transformation, seamless multimodal connectivity and logistics efficiency.

The seven engines include roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, and logistics infrastructure. All seven engines will pull forward the economy in unison.

400 new Vande Bharat trains will be introduced and the Railways will also develop new products for small farmers and MSMEs.

Integration of postal and railways network facilitating parcel movement was announced.

Master plan has been formulated for highways, targets to complete 25,000 km national highways in 2022-23.

Sovereign Green Bonds to be issued for mobilizing resources for green infrastructure.

Data Centres and Energy Storage Systems to be given infrastructure status.

Agriculture and food processing:

Budget allocation for the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare: Rs 1,32,513 crore for 2022-23 fiscal.

‘Kisan Drones’ to be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records and spraying of insecticides.

A fund with blended capital raised under the co-investment model through Nabard will be set up to finance startups and rural enterprises working in agri-space.

Zero-budget natural farming: The agriculture universities in the country will be encouraged to include these areas in their syllabus.

Education:

A Digital University would be established to provide access to students across the country for world-class quality universal education.

One class one TV channel programme to be expanded to 200 TV channels.

Virtual labs and skilling e-labs will be established to promote critical thinking skills and simulated learning environment.

The Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood – the DESH-Stack e-portal would be launched.

Healthcare:

The health sector has been allocated Rs 86,200.65 crore in the Union Budget.

A National Tele Mental Health Programme will be launched to improve access to quality mental health counselling and care services.

An open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem will also be rolled out.

For the National Health Mission, the budget allocation increased from Rs 36,576 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 37,000 crore in 2022-23.

Tax proposals:

Taxpayers have been allowed a one-time window to correct omissions in income tax returns (ITR). They can file the updated returns within 2 years from the assessment year.

30 per cent tax on income from transfer of virtual digital assets has been proposed.

One per cent tax deducted at source (TDS) on transfer of virtual assets above a threshold, gifts would be taxed.

Government will soon roll out digital rupee based on blockchain technology.

Boost for MSMEs:

A Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP) programme will be rolled out with a Rs 6,000 crore outlay spread over 5 years for MSMEs.

The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) that provided much needed additional credit to over 1.3 crore MSMEs will be extended till March 2023 with its guarantee cover expanded by Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 5 lakh crore.

Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE):

New scheme PM-DevINE launched to fund infrastructure and social development projects in the North-East.

An initial allocation of Rs. 1,500 crore made to enable livelihood activities for youth and women under the scheme.

Five river linking projects announced in Union Budget

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed a project to link five rivers in India in her budget speech.

The rivers identified for linking are:

Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery, Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada.

Details of the rivers:

Krishna, the fourth largest river in India, originates in Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Cauvery originates in Kodagu and flows through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Penna originates in Chikkaballapura and flows through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Godavari which is the third largest river in India originates in Nashik and flows through Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

The Damanganga-Pinjal river linking aims to divert surplus water from the Damanganga basin to provide domestic water for Mumbai city.

The Par-Tapi-Narmada project proposes to provide water to doubt-prone regions of Kutch and Saurashtra by diverting excess water from seven reservoirs in the Western Ghats in North Maharashtra and south Gujarat.

Benefits of interlinking:

  • Enhances water and food security.
  • Proper utilisation of water.
  • Boost to agriculture.
  • Disaster mitigation.
  • Boost to transportation.

Issues and Concerns:

Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. It will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people.

Interlinking of rivers will lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.

It causes massive displacement of people. Huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.

Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.

Contempt of Court

(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)

In News:

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has agreed to immediately list for hearing a petition to initiate contempt action against Haryana authorities for not reining in ‘hooligans’ who have created an ‘atmosphere of communal hatred and terror’ for worshippers offering Friday prayers in Gurugram.

What’s the issue?

The petition condemned the inaction of the Haryana officials in violation of a Supreme Court judgment of 2018, which mandated that authorities should not be either silent spectators or tolerate communal violence and should use the law against hate crimes.

What is Contempt?

While the basic idea of a contempt law is to punish those who do not respect the orders of the courts, in the Indian context, contempt is also used to punish speech that lowers the dignity of the court and interferes with the administration of justice.

Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

Civil, that is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgment or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.

Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Relevant provisions:

Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.

Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.

The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.