Essential Facts (Prelims):18 Feb, 2019

Finance commission

Category: Economy

  • The 15th Finance Commission will not alter its approach on solely using the 2011 Census for population figures in its calculations for allocations to States.
  • However, other measures would be included that would ensure that States that have performed well by controlling population growth would not be penalised.
  • The Commission had not yet finalised whether it would be altering the previous Commission’s recommendation that 42% of the Centre’s tax revenue be shared with the States.

660-km boundary

Category: Geography

  • Scientists have discovered massive mountains in the Earth’s mantle, an advance that may change our understanding of how the planet was formed.
  • Most school children learn that the Earth has three layers: a crust, mantle and core, which is subdivided into an inner and outer core. While that is not wrong, it does leave out several other layers that scientists have identified within the Earth.
  • Scientists used data from an enormous earthquake in Bolivia to find mountains and other topography on a layer located 660 km straight down, which separates the upper and lower mantle. Lacking a formal name for this layer, the researchers simply call it “the 660-km boundary.”


Category: environment ( disaster)

  • The World Bank has accepted a proposal to provide Rs 11,000 crore to India to improve safety and operational performance of its 733 large dams across 18 states over the next 10 years.
  • The money will be utilised under the ongoing Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Programme (DRIP) for its subsequent phases beginning 2020.
  • Besides operation, maintenance and emergency action plans, the programme will also focus on revenue generation at dams through tourism, fisheries, water recreations and solar and hydro power.
  • India has currently 5,264 operational large dams, but 80% of them are over 25 years old and in need of maintenance and safety upgradation. As many as 213 large dams in India are over 100 years old.
  • Keeping past dam disasters in mind, the government had in 2012 launched DRIP aimed at improving safety and operational standards of 198 large dams in seven states —Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu — by June next year.
  • The major dams which are to be covered under Phase-II & III of the DRIP include Bhakra dam (Himachal Pradesh), Srisailam (Telangana), Koyna and Jayakwadi (Maharashtra), Matatila, Ramganga and Raj Ghat (UP), Pong dam (HP), Ukai (Gujarat), Rana Pratap Sagar and Mahi (Rajasthan), Hirakud and Rengali (Odisha) and Umiam (Meghalaya).
  • The government had initially proposed Rs 7,000 crore for the subsequent phases of the DRIP. But, later it revised it to nearly Rs 11,000 crore.


Category: International

  • The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974.
  • The GSP program requires periodical reauthorization in order to remain in effect.
  • GSP expired on July 31, 2013, and was most recently reauthorized on June 29, 2015.
  • Often GSP authority lapses before it is renewed, in which case duties on imports that are normally covered are held in escrow pending renewal

Hydrocarbon exploration

Category: Energy

  • India’s exploration business has gone through different regimes — blocks given on nomination basis to public sector explorers like ONGC and Oil India Ltd, Production Sharing Contract under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), to Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP).
  • In NELP PSC model, the contractor first recovered the cost before sharing profits with the government — based on Investment Multiple and cost recovery /production linked payment. Blocks were won through auction rounds.
  • HELP regime replaced it by the revenue sharing model, where the government is not concerned with cost incurred and will receive a share of the gross revenue from the sale of oil, gas etc.
  • HELP also offered a uniform licence that enables the contractor to explore conventional as well as unconventional oil and gas resources under a single licence. Besides, it was done through Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP), where players carve out their areas.
  • As if this was not enough, the government also decided to monetise the small and marginal fields given to ONGC and Oil India prior to the auction rounds. Many of these fields could not be monetised for years due to various reasons such as isolated locations, small size, prohibitive development costs, technological constraints, unfavourable fiscal regime, etc.
  • The Discovered Small Field Policy was to help here. But, the results have been far from satisfactory till now, mounting pressure on the government as import dependence for crude oil and natural gas has been a big concern.


Category: Miscellaneous

It is a tigress in Chennur (Telangana) who was recently injured.


Category: Miscellaneous

Blackbuck is Punjab’s State animal.