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Daily MCQ
11 hours ago

01 April 2023 MCQs Test

10 Questions 20 Minutes

Mains Daily Question
April 1, 2023

India's Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) Revision is Long Overdue. In this context explain the rationale for formulating a new foreign trade policy. Also, highlight the major provisions of the foreign trade policy bill 2023. 

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB)
Recently, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board approved a unified tariff for natural gas pipelines, a move that will help expand access to clean burning fuel at competitive rates in far-flung areas.
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About Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board:

  • The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) was formed under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, of 2006.
  • Objective: To protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • PNGRB authorises the CGD networks, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, determines tariffs, lays down the technical and safety standards etc.
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

What is a Natural Gas?

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel energy Natural gas contains many different compounds. The largest component of natural gas is methane, a compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
  • Natural gas also contains smaller amounts of natural gas liquids (NGLs, which are also hydrocarbon gas liquids), and nonhydrocarbon gases, such as carbon dioxide and water vapour.

How did natural gas form?

  • Millions to hundreds of millions of years ago, the remains of plants and animals (such as diatoms) built up in thick layers on the earth’s surface and ocean floors, sometimes mixed with sand, silt, and calcium carbonate.
  • Over time, these layers were buried under sand, silt, and rock.
  • Pressure and heat changed some of this carbon and hydrogen-rich material into coal, some into oil (petroleum), and some into natural gas.
Polity & Governance

01 Apr 2023

Gamosa: A marker of Assamese Identity

Why in news?

  • Recently, there were protests in Assam this week after a newly formed literary body called the Bangla Sahitya Sabha, Assam (BSSA) used a ceremonial scarf to felicitate guests.
  • This scarf was created by sewing together half an Assamese gamosa and half a Bengali gamcha.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Gamosa

What is Gamosa?

  • The traditional Assamese Gamosa/Gamusa or Gamucha is one of the most recognisable cultural symbols of Assam.
  • It is a white rectangular piece of cloth with embroidered red borders.
    • The red border is called the "anchu" and is believed to be the sign of Ahom strength.
  • There are a total of nine types of Gamosas used for different occassions.
    • These are - Uka Gamosa, Phulam Gamosa, Bihuwan Gamosa, Tiyoni Gamosa, Pani Gamosa, Anakota Gamosa, Telosh Gamusa, Jor Gamosa and Xadharon Gamosa.
  • While most Gamosas are made of cotton, few utilized in special occasions are made from Silk too.
  • While it has a lot of uses, it is mostly used as an article presented to guests, elders, family or friends on special occasions as a sign of respect.

Why the gamosa wraps the Assamese society together?

  • Symbol of Assamese cultural identity
    • The gamosa is considered a symbol of Assamese cultural identity and is revered for multiple reasons.
    • It has a deep symbolic value in Assam, be it religiously, socially or culturally.
    • Socially, it is gifted as a symbol of mutual respect and solidarity.
  • Special relationship with the Vaishnavite culture
    • It also has a special relationship with the Vaishnavite culture in Assam.
    • The axon, the main place of worship, is considered incomplete without one. So, there’s a lot of emotion attached to it.
  • Gamosa became a symbol of Assamese sub-nationalism
    • During moments when Assamese sub-nationalism took centre stage, the gamosa was prominently used by protesters as a marker of Assamese identity.
    • E.g., During the Assam Agitation of the early 1980s and more recently, the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in the state.
  • The rise and rise of the gamosa
    • The gamosa has traversed beyond Assam:
      • to Delhi (on account of being Prime Minister Modi’s favourite accessory)
      • to the tracks of Finland (when athlete Hima Das won her historic gold in July 2018) and
      • even to outer space (when NASA astronaut Mike Fincke — married to an Assamese — performed Bihu aboard the International Space Station in 2004).

Gamosa gets GI tag

  • In December 2022, gamosa has received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the central government.
    • A GI is tagged to primarily agricultural, natural or manufactured products, handicrafts and industrial goods originating from a definite geographical territory.


History & Culture

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

Utkal Dibas
Recently, the Prime Minister of India greeted the people on Utkal Dibasa.
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About Utkal Dibas:

  • The modern state of Odisha was established on 1 April 1936 at Kanika Palace, Cuttack, as a province in India, and consists predominantly of Odia speakers.1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day). 

What is the History of the Odisha?

  • The British had occupied the Northern Circars, comprising the southern coast of Odisha, as a result of the Second Carnatic War by 1760, and incorporated them into the Madras Presidency gradually.
  • In 1803, the British ousted the Marathas from the Puri-Cuttack region of Odisha during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The northern and western districts of Odisha were incorporated into the Bengal Presidency.
  • In 1903, the Utkal Sammilani organisation was founded to demand the unification of Odia-speaking regions into one state.
  • On 1 April 1912, the Bihar and Orissa Province was formed.
    and on 1 April 1936, Bihar and Orissa were split into separate provinces.
  • The new province of Orissa came into existence on a linguistic basis during the British rule in India, with Sir John Austen Hubback as the first governor.
  • Following India's independence, on 15 August 1947, 27 princely states signed the document to join Orissa.

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

Bent-toed Gecko
Recently, scientists have discovered a new species of ground-dwelling gecko, a species of lizard, from the coastal forests of Kerala.
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About Bent-toed Gecko:

  • The beautifully-patterned Bent-toed Gecko is a small, nocturnal species.
  • Its scientific name is Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) chengodumalaens.
  • It is found on the ground among leaf litter and rocks in forests and partially human-altered landscapes like orchards and other areas with canopy cover.
  • It is endemic to low hills and coastal forests in northern Kerala and is known from scattered localities spanning a maximum of 120 km distance in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, and Thrissur districts.
  • It is the second new species of gecko which has been described from Chengodumala highlighting the fact that the biodiversity of these low-elevation hillocks

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

Salt marshes
According to new research, more than 90 per cent of the salt marshes may soon succumb to sea level rise by the turn of the century.
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About Salt marshes:

  • Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are flooded and drained by salt water brought in by the tides.
  • Salt marshes occur worldwide, particularly in middle to high latitudes.
  • They are found in intertidal zones along coastlines, usually in protected areas such as estuaries or bays.
  • They are dominated by grasses and other salt-tolerant plants such as sedges, cordgrass, rushes, and mangroves.

What are the Advantages?

  • Salt marshes protect shorelines from erosion by buffering wave action and trapping sediments.
  • They reduce flooding by slowing and absorbing rainwater and protect water quality by filtering runoff and metabolizing excess nutrients.

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

Assamese Gamosa
Recently, the ‘hybrid’ gamosa which was used for felicitating guests at a function sparked protests across Assam.
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About Assamese gamosa

  • The ‘gamosa or gamocha’ is a hand-woven rectangular cotton piece of cloth with red borders and different designs and motifs.
  • It is traditionally offered to elders and guests as a mark of respect and honour by Assamese people.
  • It is an integral part of all socio-religious ceremonies in the state and is considered an Assamese identity and pride.
  • For specific purposes, it is also made of expensive materials like traditional Assamese ‘Pat’ silk and in different colours as well.
  • The ‘gamosa’ meant for exchange during the ‘Bihu’ festival is known as ‘Bihuwan’.
  • It is a unique scarf found only in Assam and also received Geographic Indication (GI) tag.

What is a Geographic Indication Tag?

  • A Geographical Indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • This tag is typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts and industrial products.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
  • This GI tag is valid for 10 years following which it can be renewed.
History & Culture

01 Apr 2023

Foreign Trade Policy 2023

Why in News?

  • Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal, recently launched the Foreign Trade Policy 2023.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About FTP 2023 (Objective, Key Highlights of the Policy, etc.)

 About Foreign Trade Policy 2023:

  • Foreign Trade Policy (2023) is a policy document which is based on continuity of time-tested schemes facilitating exports as well as a document which is nimble and responsive to the requirements of trade.
  • The Key Approach to the policy is based on these 4 pillars –
    • Incentive to Remission,
    • Export promotion through collaboration - Exporters, States, Districts, Indian Missions,
    • Ease of doing business, reduction in transaction cost and e-initiatives and
    • Emerging Areas – E-Commerce Developing Districts as Export Hubs and streamlining SCOMET policy.

Key Highlights of FTP 2023:

  • Process Re-Engineering and Automation –
    • Greater faith is being reposed on exporters through automated IT systems with risk management system for various approvals in the new FTP.
    • The policy emphasizes export promotion and development, moving away from an incentive regime to a regime which is facilitating, based on technology interface and principles of collaboration.
    • FTP 2023 codifies implementation mechanisms in a paperless, online environment, building on earlier 'ease of doing business' initiatives.
    • Reduction in fee structures and IT-based schemes will make it easier for MSMEs and others to access export benefits.
    • Duty exemption schemes for export production will now be implemented through Regional Offices in a rule-based IT system environment, eliminating the need for manual interface.
  • Towns of Export Excellence –
    • Four new towns, namely Faridabad, Mirzapur, Moradabad, and Varanasi, have been designated as Towns of Export Excellence (TEE) in addition to the existing 39 towns.
    • The TEEs will have priority access to export promotion funds under the MAI scheme and will be able to avail Common Service Provider (CSP) benefits for export fulfillment under the EPCG Scheme.
      • Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme is an Export Promotion Scheme envisaged to act as a catalyst to promote India's exports on a sustained basis.
      • The objective of the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme is to facilitate import of capital goods for producing quality goods and services and enhance India's manufacturing competitiveness.
    • This addition is expected to boost the exports of handlooms, handicrafts, and carpets.
  • Recognition of Exporters –
    • Exporter firms recognized with 'status', based on export performance, will now be partners in capacity-building initiatives.
    • Similar to the “each one teach one” initiative, 2-star and above status holders would be encouraged to provide trade-related training based on a model curriculum to interested individuals.
    • This will help India build a skilled manpower pool capable of servicing a $5 trillion economy before 2030.
    • Status recognition norms have been re-calibrated to enable more exporting firms to achieve 4 and 5-star ratings, leading to better branding opportunities in export markets.
  • Promoting Export from the Districts –
    • The FTP aims at building partnerships with State governments and taking forward the Districts as Export Hubs (DEH) initiative to promote exports at the district level.
    • District specific export action plans to be prepared for each district outlining the district specific strategy to promote export of identified products and services.
  • Streamlining SCOMET Policy –
    • India is placing more emphasis on the "export control" regime as its integration with export control regime countries strengthens.
    • There is a wider outreach and understanding of SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies) among stakeholders.
  • Facilitating E-Commerce Exports –
    • E-commerce exports are a promising category that requires distinct policy interventions from traditional offline trade.
    • Various estimates suggest India’s e-commerce export potential in the range of $200 to $300 billion by 2030.
    • FTP 2023 outlines the intent and roadmap for establishing e-commerce hubs and related elements.
    • As a starting point, the consignment wise cap on E-Commerce exports through courier has been raised from ₹5Lakh to ₹10 Lakh in the FTP 2023.
  • Facilitation under Export Promotion of Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme –
    • The EPCG Scheme, which allows import of capital goods at zero Customs duty for export production, is being further rationalized.
  • Facilitation under Advance authorization Scheme –
    • Advance authorization Scheme accessed by Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) units provides duty-free import of raw materials for manufacturing export items.
    • Based on interactions with industry and Export Promotion councils, certain facilitation provisions have been added in the FTP 2023.
  • Amnesty Scheme –
    • Finally, the Government is strongly committed to reducing litigation and fostering trust-based relationships to help alleviate the issues faced by exporters.
    • In line with "Vivaad se Vishwaas" initiative, which sought to settle tax disputes amicably, the government is introducing a special one-time Amnesty Scheme under the FTP 2023 to address default on Export Obligations.
    • This scheme is intended to provide relief to exporters who have been unable to meet their obligations under EPCG and Advance Authorizations.

Current Affairs
April 1, 2023

What is the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme?
The recently announced Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) has added the Prime Minister Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM MITRA) scheme as an additional scheme eligible for benefits under the Common Service Provider Scheme of the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme (EPCG).
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About Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme:

  • It is a trade promotion scheme implemented by the Indian government.
  • It allows the duty-free import of capital goods for the purpose of export production in India.
  • It was first operationalized on 1 April 2015.
  • Aim: To encourage the production of goods for export by providing import duty concessions on capital goods.
  • The EPCG scheme is administered by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and is governed by the Foreign Trade Policy of India.
  • Features:
    • EPCG Scheme allows import of capital goods for pre-production, production and post-production at zero customs duty.
    • It covers manufacturer exporters with or without supporting manufacturer(s), merchant exporters tied to supporting manufacturer(s) and service providers.
    • Second-hand goods of any nature will not be permitted under the EPCG scheme.

What is the PM MITRA Scheme?

  • It will offer the opportunity to create an Integrated Textiles Value Chain, right from spinning, weaving, processing/dyeing and printing to garment manufacturing etc., at one location and will reduce the logistics cost of the Industry.
  • PM MITRA Parks will help in creating world-class industrial infrastructure that would attract large-scale investment, including foreign direct investment (FDI) and encourage innovation and job creation within the sector.
  • Special Purpose Vehicle owned by the Centre and State Government will be set up for each park which will oversee the implementation of the project.
  • Funding:
    • The Ministry of Textiles will provide financial support in the form of Development Capital Support up to Rs. 500 crores per park to the Park SPV.
    • A Competitive Incentive Support (CIS) of up to Rs 300 crore per park to the units in PM MITRA Park shall also be provided to incentivise speedy implementation.
    • State governments will provide a contiguous and encumbrance-free land parcel of at least 1000 acres of land.
Government Schemes and Initiatives
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