Current Affairs Current Affairs - 17 May 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 17 May 2018

General Affairs 

Four Tribal Students From Maharashtra Scale Mount Everest
  • Four tribal students from Maharashtra have successfully scaled Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said Tuesday evening.

    The students were among ten from Ashramshalas (state-run residential schools for tribals) from Chandrapur district, selected for the Everest expedition as part of the Tribal Development department's 'Mission Shaurya 2018', he said.

    Umakant Madavi (19), Parmesh Ale (19), Manisha Dhurve (18) and Kavidas Kathmode (18) scaled Everest in the wee hours of Wednesday. Two other members of the team will attempt to climb the summit in the next two days, Mr Mungantiwar said.

    Kavidas Kathmode and Umakant Madavi reached the summit around 3.25 am, while Manisha Dhurve and Parmesh Ale followed an hour later.

    "This is a historic achievement. They have made their Ashramshala as well as Chandrapur district proud," Mr Mungantiwar said.

    The team, with members aged between 18 and 21, had left on April 11 from Mumbai for the 60-day expedition.

    The selection process had begun in July 2017 with a school-level screening of 60 students, out of which 45 were selected for the foundation training in Wardha.

    After further shortlisting, 18 were selected for a mountaineering course at Darjeeling, and thirteen of them were sent for advanced training in Leh before selecting the final team.

Defection Law Won't Apply Before Karnataka Oath, Centre Argues In Court
  • The anti-defection law that bans legislators from jumping parties does not apply to Karnataka's newly-elected legislators if they switch parties before being administered oath, KK Venugopal, the centre's top law officer, told three judges of the Supreme Court at a rare hearing that started well past midnight and continued till dawn.

    The trigger for the unusual hearing was a Congress petition filed late on Wednesday asking the court to stop BJP's BS Yeddyurappa from being sworn in as chief minister because the BJP did not have the majority. The BJP has 105 lawmakers, including an Independent, in the 222-seat assembly and is seven short of majority.

    Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who had filed the petition for the Congress-JDS alliance, argued that the BJP could not claim to get a majority unless it claims it will encourage lawmakers to defect. To this, the Supreme Court bench said this would be covered by anti-defection law.

    Mr Venugopal later suggested that this may not be the case. "Defection is one member crosses to other party. Defection law won't apply before elected member is sworn in as MLA," he said.

    The Supreme Court did not eventually put Mr Yeddyurappa's swearing-in on hold, but wasn't entirely convinced by this argument. "You mean before swearing in MLAs can switch sides?" the bench asked, wondering how the BJP intended to cross the majority mark of 112 when the other side, the Congress-JDS combine, had a list of 116 lawmakers on its side.

    If the Congress-JDS alliance has 116 members, the court wondered on what basis has Mr Yeddyurappa claimed that he has the support of more than half the lawmakers. The court said they hadn't seen his letter to the governor but "the arithmetic defies in what way he was invited".

    Mr Venugopal and Mukul Rohatgi, the government's former top law officer who said he was representing two BJP legislators, had asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the Congress petition, insisting that the court could not stay the governor's decision.

    "Heavens won't fall if someone is sworn in. Last time, Supreme Court heard in night, the case related to hanging of Yakub Memon", Mr Rohatgi argued.

    Mr Rohatgi pointed that the Karnataka case was very different from the one in Goa last year which had also reached the Supreme Court. The senior lawyer said the governor, Mridula Sinha, had invited Manohar Parrikar only because the Congress did not stake claim.

    This is the second time that the Supreme Court held an overnight hearing. The first was in July 2015 when the top court held a 90-minute hearing in the middle of the night to hear a last-minute petition against the execution of Yakub Memon for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

    The top court's hearing in the Karnataka case continued for over three hours.

    "The governor can't negate democracy... The other side has 104 members and this side, 116.... It is elementary common sense on numbers (which one is greater)," Abhishek Singhvi had countered before a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri, A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan.

"All Courses Should Be Taught In Indian Languages," Says Venkaiah Naidu
  • Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said that all courses, even medicine and engineering, should be taught in Indian languages.

    "As the Vice President of India and being a citizen, I feel that all the courses, medicine, engineering...should be taught in Hindi and all (other) Indian languages in coming days," Mr Naidu at a journalism school in Bhopal.

    Will and change of mindset were needed to effect this change, he said.

    "It is easy to speak out your heart in one's own language. I am not averse to learning English, English should be learnt. But before that, our mother tongue - be it Hindi, Telugu, Punjabi or Marathi, should be learnt," he said.

    If mother tongue is eyes, languages are pairs of spectacles. Spectacles are worn over eyes, but in the absence of eyes, there is no sight, Mr Naidu said.

    To establish their language here, the British made its study a must for getting jobs, he said.

    If teaching and learning in Indian languages is not promoted, future generations won't be able to speak their mother tongues, the vice president said.

    Mr Naidu also touched upon disruptions in legislatures.

    "The House is for debate and discussion. If it does not run, democracy would weaken....To speak against (government) is the right in democracy, but to stall the House is wrong," he said.

    In selecting leaders, four 'C's should be considered -- character, calibre, capacity and conduct, he said.

    However, in today's politics, another four 'C's -- caste, community, cash and criminality -- are encouraged, he lamented.

Delhi Projected To Become World's Most Populous City Around 2028: UN Report
  • Delhi is projected to become the most populous city in the world around 2028, according to new United Nations estimates released Wednesday, which said India is expected to add the largest number of urban dwellers by 2050.

    The 2018 Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and released Wednesday said that 68 per cent of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050.

    Currently, 55 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas.

    The report notes that future increases in the size of the world's urban population are expected to be highly concentrated in just a few countries.

    Together, India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth of the world's urban population between 2018 and 2050. By 2050, it is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million.

    Tokyo is the world's largest city with an agglomeration of 37 million inhabitants, followed by New Delhi with 29 million, Shanghai with 26 million, and Mexico City and S o Paulo, each with around 22 million inhabitants. Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka all have close to 20 million inhabitants.

    "By 2020, Tokyo's population is projected to begin to decline, while Delhi is projected to continue growing and to become the most populous city in the world around 2028," the report said.

    The projected population size of New Delhi in 2028 is about 37.2 million, surpassing Tokyo's 36.8 million, it added.

    By 2030, the world is projected to have 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, most of them in developing regions. However, some of the fastest-growing urban agglomerations are cities with fewer than a million inhabitants, many of them located in Asia and Africa.

    Projections show that urbanisation, the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas, combined with the overall growth of the world's population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050, with close to 90 per cent of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa, according to the new United Nations data set launched today.

    The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 751 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018. Asia, despite its relatively lower level of urbanization, is home to 54 per cent of the world's urban population, followed by Europe and Africa with 13 per cent each.

    Today, the most urbanized regions include Northern America (with 82 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2018), Latin America and the Caribbean (81 per cent), Europe (74 per cent) and Oceania (68 per cent). The level of urbanization in Asia is now approximating 50 per cent. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas.

    Some cities have experienced population decline in recent years. Most of these are located in the low-fertility countries of Asia and Europe where overall population sizes are stagnant or declining.

    "Economic contraction and natural disasters have also contributed to population losses in some cities," the report said.

    Globally, fewer cities are projected to see their populations decline from today until 2030, compared to what has occurred during the last two decades.

    The rural population of the world has grown slowly since 1950 and is expected to reach its peak in a few years. The global rural population is now close to 3.4 billion and is expected to rise slightly and then decline to 3.1 billion by 2050. Africa and Asia are home to nearly 90 per cent of the world's rural population in 2018.

    India has the largest rural population (893 million), followed by China (578 million).

    The report added that understanding the key trends in urbanization likely to unfold over the coming years is crucial to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including efforts to forge a new framework of urban development.

    COMMENTSAs the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development depends increasingly on the successful management of urban growth, especially in low-income and lower-middle-income countries where the pace of urbanization is projected to be the fastest.

    "Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure, as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care. Integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers are needed, while strengthening the linkages between urban and rural areas, building on their existing economic, social and environmental ties," it said.

Fake Aadhaar Card Racket Busted In Manipur, Chennai Woman, 9 Myanmar Nationals Arrested
  • A woman from Chennai and nine nationals from Myanmar have been arrested by the police in Manipur, which claims they have successfully busted a gang for making fake Aadhaar cards in the state.

    On Tuesday, two vehicles were travelling from border town Moreh towards Imphal when they were intercepted by the police. Out of the 10 passengers, nine were found to be illegal immigrants from Myanmar who did not have valid documents. 

    The woman, 60-year-old Paritha Begum, is a resident of Sri Ram Nagar in Chennai.

    On further investigation, police raided a house and seized two laptops, four Aadhaar cards, one printer machine, one laminating film machine, laminating plastic sheets, photo paper and two DVDs.

    On March 25, police in Manipur's Jiribam had arrested a woman by the name Nongthombam Argentina alias Pinky for allegedly making fake Aadhaar cards at her residence. 85 Aadhaar enrolment forms, one laptop, one iris CMIT machine with camera, biometric (Green) BIT, GPS, mobile handset and a scanner were seized from her possession. 

    The state government has decided to remove Common Service Centres as access point for Aadhaar services throughout the State.

    Last week, 24 Bangladeshis possessing fake Indian Aadhar card were arrested in Tripura. National Investigation Agency or NIA has taken over the investigation.

Business Affairs

US bankruptcy court puts PNB officials under the scanner for Nirav Modi fraud
  • Punjab National Bank (PNB) continues to hog the headlines, all for the wrong reasons. Now, the New York court where three of Nirav Modi's companies filed for bankruptcy has reportedly called for an investigation into the role of the bank's employees in the alleged fraud before deciding on proceedings.

    According to The Economic Times, the court-appointed examiner will have the right to conduct voluntary interviews of debtors, current and former accounting and audit professionals as well as issue subpoenas, or seek judicial intervention in cases where witnesses decline to cooperate.

    "Conduct a forensic financial analysis of the books and records of the debtors, bank records, vendor records, and any and all relevant information of other entities consistent with the investigation, and trace the movement of monies obtained under the alleged fraud circumstances against PNB to the debtors, and related entities and individuals," the court order reportedly said.

    Earlier this month, the daily had reported that the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York had asked a global professional services firm, Alvarez and Marsal, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged Rs 13,000 crore bank fraud involving the diamantaire-turned-fugitive.

    Incidentally, BDO India LLP, the firm engaged by PNB to conduct a forensic investigation into the fraud committed by Modi and his companies, has also shared its findings with the US bankruptcy court. In a document dated May 10, Kartik Radia, Partner & Head - Business Advisory Services at BDO, declared that the three companies Firestar Diamond Inc, A. Jaffe Inc and Fantasy Inc that have filed for bankruptcy in New York received at least around $46 million (Rs 312.4 crore) in remittances from PNB since 2011, the time when Modi's fraudulent activities are believed to have commenced. He added that of this amount, "approximately $8.329 million was remitted in the form of funds issued pursuant to LoUs (the "Debtor LoUs")".

    BDO also found that there were no records of four of the five Debtor LoUs [letter of undertaking] in PNB's CBS (Core Banking Solutions) system and they were not secured by any margin or collateral - Gokulnath Shetty, the former deputy manager at the centre of the fraud, had authorised them. Furthermore, the forensic report flagged off "certain suspicious entities", including Fancy Creations Company, World Diamond Distribution, FZE, Eternal Diamond Corp, Empire Gems FZE, Pacific Diamonds FZE and Tri Color Gems, that were beneficiaries of the LoUs.

    "Each of these entities bear two or more indicia of suspicious activity", said Radia, including sharing current/former key management personnel with the three companies that filed for bankruptcy and lacking a Bill of Entry in the Customs database. The latter, at the very least, reeks of money laundering.

    Meanwhile, at home, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed its second charge-sheet in relation to the PNB fraud today. Agency sources told India Today that it names 18 accused, including three firms owned by diamond businessman Mehul Choksi - Gitanjali Gems Limited, Gilli India Limited and Nakshatra Brand Limited - and the four top PNB officials named in the first charge-sheet. The latest charge-sheet reportedly focusses on the criminal conspiracy and fraud committed by Choksi, Modi's maternal uncle and business partner. Choksi and Modi's wife, Ami, have been shown as wanted by the agency.

    To remind you, on Monday, CBI had charge-sheeted Modi and 24 others in connection with fraudulent issuance of Rs 6,498.20 crore worth of LoUs to Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds. The list included PNB's former MD and CEO Usha Ananthasubramanian and her top officials -- Executive Directors KV Brahmaji Rao and Sanjeev Saran and General Manager Nehal Ahad. The CBI has alleged that the bank's top brass "misrepresented" the factual position on LoUs to the RBI, which allowed the fraud to run on for seven years. Worse, they failed to prevent the fraud despite having prior knowledge of how LoUs can be used to cheat banks.

Petrol prices hiked for third day straight, touches Rs 75.10 in Delhi; diesel prices at all time high
  • After remaining stagnant for 19 days, fuel prices have risen across the country for the third day in a row. Petrol prices were increased by 15 paise on Wednesday in Delhi and Mumbai, while it was raised by 14 paise and 16 paise in Kolkata and Chennai respectively. State-owned oil companies in June last year dumped the 15-year old practice of revising rates on 1st and 16th of every month and instead adopted a dynamic daily price revision, following which fuel prices are revised at 6 am every day. Diesel prices were increased by 21 paise in Delhi and Kolkata and by 22 paise and 23 paise in Mumbai and Chennai respectively.

    Petrol now costs Rs 75.10 in Delhi a litre, Rs 77.79 in Kolkata, Rs 82.94 in Mumbai, Rs 77.93 in Chennai, Rs 76.31 in Bengaluru, and Rs 79.55 in Hyderabad.

    A litre of diesel on the other hand will cost citizens in Delhi Rs 66.57, Rs 69.11 in Kolkata, Rs 70.88 in Mumbai, Rs 70.25 in Chennai, Rs 67.71 in Bengaluru and Rs 72.36 in Hyderabad.

    According to reports, diesel is at its most expensive Delhi has ever seen, while petrol prices are the highest since September 2013.

    Fuel rates are determined by primarily two factors - the global crude oil rate and the rupee-dollar forex rate. Brent crude oil had touched $79.47 a barrel, its highest since November 2014, following concerns that US sanctions on Iran are likely to restrict export of crude from one of the biggest producers in the Middle East. Moreover, the rupee is also down more than 6% against the US dollar so far this year. Although the rupee recovered a little on Wednesday, it is still not far from 68 against the dollar.

    However, before the Karnataka polls, fuel prices remained unchanged for 19 days. State-owned oil marketing companies are estimated to have lost about Rs 500 crore as they absorbed higher cost resulting from the spike in international oil rates and fall in rupee against the US dollar during this period. Oil PSUs that had kept rates unchanged for nearly three weeks before Karnataka polls despite a spike in input cost, reverted to daily revision in prices as soon as the state voted to elect a new government on Saturday.

    Oil PSUs have refused to acknowledge if the freeze followed a government diktat so as to help the ruling BJP with the polls in Karnataka, where it has been vying to come to power. Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman Sanjiv Singh last week said that the state-owned firms were 'temporarily moderating' prices to avoid sharp spikes and panic among consumers.

    Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg have in the past weeks ruled out any immediate reduction in excise duty to cushion the increases warranted from a spike in international oil price.

    The BJP-led government had raised excise duty nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then also cut the tax once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.

Meet the Icelander who will make international flights super cheap for Indians
  • How about flying from India to North America at 30-50% cheaper rates than currently available? And to add to it, what if you get a stopover at Iceland's capital, Reykjavik? That's what Skuli Mogensen, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of WOW air, is promising. A few years ago, Iceland was an obscure country, too pretty but too far for travellers to visit. After the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, the Iceland government launched a PR campaign to reassure foreign travellers. They also showcased the country in all its beauty.

    By then Mogensen had realised it was expensive for visitors to travel to Iceland on a restricted budget. So, in 2011, he founded WOW air - the Icelandic discount carrier. In only six years, WOW air, under Mogensen's sole ownership, almost caught up with Icelandair that's been operating since 1937. A 2016 Business Insider report on Mogensen said that WOW air was experiencing 125% growth year on year and was on track to rake in half a billion dollars in 2017.

    However, WOW air is not Skuli Mogensen's first successful venture. The Philosophy major from Iceland University has been part of multiple projects with over 15 years of experience in technology, telecom and venture capital.

    In 1990 he founded OZ Communications and served as its Chairman, CEO and President from 1990 to 2007. In 2008, he sold OZ Communications to Nokia. In 1998, he founded Islandssimi, a telecommunications company, which later merged with Vodafone. In 1999, he co-founded Mobilestop. In 2005, Mogensen founded Arctic Ventures. He has also been an active public and private investor in the tech sector for at least 10 years. Skuli Mogensen was named Iceland's Businessman of the Year in 2011 and 2016.

    But, Mogensen is not just another businessman. He is adventurous and hugely into sports. He spends as much time as he can on outdoor activities. Extreme skiing, cycling and triathlons are only some of the activities he is said to enjoy. Perhaps, it is the same reason Mogensen launched WOW Cyclothon in 2012. The cyclothon takes cyclists 1358 km across Iceland in 72 hours.

    More importantly, his love for outdoor activities is how he ended up in the aviation industry. In an interview to Men's Journal, he said that after participating in triathlons and adventure sports, he wanted a career that would bring him the same amount of thrill and challenge. And while his peers dissuaded him, Mogensen had set his heart on creating something for the long-haul smart traveller "who favours protein bars over three course meal or using personal tech devices over watching in-flight movies".

    Mogensen is also an active patron of the arts and has sponsored a number of artists and exhibitions in his country. He also sponsors CrossFit tournaments. Under Mogensen, Wow air provides not just affordable tickets for long flights, but also exciting offers for backpackers.

    Recently, the airline offered an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to two people to move to Iceland for 3 months, travel to WOW air's 38 destinations across the world and write a travelogue for its website, Travel Guide, where the content would be hosted. Along with accommodation, the candidates would also be paid 3,300 euros.

    Now, following the same manoeuvre as across multiple destinations, WOW air is launching its flight operations in India. "Our launch is in sync with India's aviation growth story and we look forward to being part of it with our very affordable fares to North America and Europe on board brand new Airbus A330neos. WOW air also plans to add more flights to India in the future as the country strongly moves ahead to become the world's third largest tourism economy in the next 10 years," Mogensen said at the launch.

    As of spring 2018, WOW air services 39 destinations across Europe and North America including Dublin, London, Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen. The purple airline boasts one of the world's youngest fleet, with an average aircraft age of just two years. It said that it will use the brand new Airbus A330neo aircrafts on the Delhi route.

ITC reports 9.9 per cent jump in net profit in Q4 FY18, beating analyst predictions
  • Diversified group ITC may have managed to beat analyst expectations where profits are concerned, but the fourth quarter (Q4) results for the last fiscal were rather lack-lustre.

    The cigarette-to-soap maker reported a 9.9 per cent year-on-year increase in its net profit at Rs 2,933 crore for the quarter ended March 31. A Reuters poll of analysts estimated net profit growth of 6.36 percent to Rs 2,839 crore. In comparison, it had reported a 16.75 per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 3,090.20 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

    Total income in the quarter under review stood at Rs 11329.74 crore, down 26 per cent from Rs 15410.92 crore in the corresponding period last year. Net sales, too, reportedly dropped from Rs 14,883 crore to Rs 10, 706 crore in the same period.

    The Kolkata-based company's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 6.9 per cent to Rs 4,144 crore year-on-year, while EBITDA margin went up to 39.1 per cent from 38.4 per cent a year ago. The profit before tax for the company's mainstay - cigarettes - stood at Rs 3,505.76 crore in Q4 FY 18 compared to Rs 3,258.76 crore in Q4 FY17, a jump of around 8 per cent. However, its hotel business fared better, posting an EBIT jump of 13 per cent year-on-year in the quarter under review.

    "The Board of Directors of the Company at the meeting held on 16th May, 2018 recommended dividend of Rs 5.15 per ordinary share of Rs 1 each for the financial year ended 31st March 2018, subject to declaration of the same by the Members at the 1 07th Annual General Meeting of the company convened for Friday, 27th July, 2018; the dividend, if declared, will be paid on Tuesday, 31st July 2018 to those members entitled thereto," ITC said in a BSE filing.

    The ITC board has also re-designated Sanjiv Puri, Chief Executive Officer and Wholetime Director, as the Managing Director of the company with effect from May 16. Reacting to the financial results, ITC shares went up 2 per cent, hitting a high of Rs 288.60. It is currently trading at Rs 285.95 apiece.

Tata Steel reports Q4 net profit at Rs 14,688 crore
  • Jet Airways that announced the commencement of its UDAN flights from June 14 yesterday, is now offering budget fares starting as low as Rs 967. The airlines announced yesterday that the first of its UDAN flights, the government's regional connectivity scheme, would be operated between Lucknow-Allahabad-Patna.  

    Jet Airways had bagged four routes in the second round of bidding in January where a total of 325 routes were awarded to various operators. Besides, Lucknow-Allahabad-Patna, Jet Airways will operate its UDAN flights on New Delhi-Nashik, Nagpur-Allahabad-Indore and Lucknow-Bareilly-Delhi routes.

    The fares for the Lucknow-Allahabad-Patna flight under the Udan scheme will be Rs 967, while the flights on the Patna-Allahabad-Patna route will cost Rs 1,216, Jet Airways said in a release today.

    Similarly, the ticket price for a trip on the Nagpur-Allahabad-Nagpur route has been pegged at Rs 1,690, while the Indore-Allahabad-Indore flight will cost Rs 1,914, the release added. Fare for a Delhi-Nashik-Delhi flight will be Rs 2,665, the release mentioned.

    At least half of the seats in the UDAN flights are offered at subsidised rates. The participating carriers get a certain amount of viability gap funding (VGF) that is shared between the Centre and the particular state. To fund the scheme, the civil aviation ministry is collecting a levy of Rs 5,000 per departure from airlines operating in major routes, including Mumbai and Delhi.

    The government had in March 2017 awarded 128 regional routes to five airlines for launching flights under the Udan (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, which aims at boosting air connectivity to the hinterland.

    Under the scheme, the fares have been kept at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour journey.

    General Awareness

    Trade facilitation pact in services
    • Context: India has pitched for inclusion of the trade facilitation pact on services in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) saying it would help promote growth of the global economy.


      On the lines of the trade facilitation pact in goods, India has submitted a detailed proposal to the WTO to negotiate a trade facilitation agreement in services (TFS). India is pitching for this pact as the sector contributes over 60% to the GDP and 28% to total employment.

      About Trade Facilitation agreement in services:

      The TFS proposal aims at liberalising rules for movement of professionals and other steps to reduce transaction costs with a view to boost growth of the services sector.
      It will focus on issues like liberalised visa regime, long-term visas for business community and freer movement of professionals for the greater benefit of both India and the world, among others.

      Key proposals:

      The proposed agreement would set provisions on all four modes of services supply of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
      For services supplied through “mode 3” (a foreign company setting up subsidiaries or branches to provide services in another country), it suggests streamlining the setting up of businesses through a “single window”.
      For the cross-border movement of services suppliers (known as “mode 4”), it suggests simplifying work permit and visa procedures and ensuring that measures relating to taxation, fees and social security contributions do not unfairly disadvantage foreign service suppliers.
      Other suggestions include enhancing cooperation among authorities, facilitating cross-border data flows, and allowing WTO members to comment on measures before their entry into force. The proposal also foresees special and differential treatment for developing countries.

      Need for Trade Facilitation in Services:

      The TFS Agreement, in conjunction with enhanced liberalization commitments, would help realize the fuller potential for trade in services. Global trade in services represents a contradiction in the macroeconomic sphere. It has about 70.5% of share in world GDP and 50.9% share in employment. However, relative to this, its share in global exports is lower than that of trade in goods, despite having a higher share in GDP. This dichotomy suggests that there are more barriers existing for trade in services as compared to trade in goods.

      Way ahead:

      Given this context, and India’s ever-growing global services footprint, it is not surprising that the country has taken the initiative in moving for a TFS Agreement. It is expected that the TFS Agreement, in conjunction with enhanced liberalization commitments, would help realize the fuller potential for trade in services. It would both complement and supplement the progressive liberalization of this. By moving the proposal for a TFS Agreement, India has opened the floor for negotiation for more interactive trade in services at the multilateral level.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims: Trade Facilitation agreement.
      For Mains: TFS- need, challenges and significance.

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