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DAILY CURRENT EVENTS CIVILS360

October 21, 2017

U.S. starts anti-dumping probe into PTFE resin from India

  • The U.S. has initiated anti-dumping duty investigations against import of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin from India and China, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • The probe is being started to determine whether imports of PTFE resin from China and India “are being dumped in the U.S., and a countervailing duty investigation to determine whether producers of PTFE resin in India are receiving alleged unfair subsidies,” the department said in a statement.

‘Alleged margins’

  • The PTFE is mostly used as a non-stick coating for utensils. The department has stated that the estimated dumping margins alleged by the petitioner range from 23.4%-408.9% for China and 15.8% to 128.1% for India.
  • In the anti-dumping investigations, it said the department would determine whether imports of the resin from China and India were being dumped in the American market at less than fair value.
  • On the other hand, it said, in the countervailing investigation, it will determine whether Indian producers of PTFE resin are receiving unfair government subsidies.
  • If the department establishes that the products are being dumped, they can impose duties on those imports.
  • “In 2016, imports of PTFE resin from China and India were valued at an estimated $24.6 million and $14.3 million, respectively,” it added.
  • Countries initiate anti-dumping probes to determine if the domestic industry has been hurt by a surge in below-cost imports. As a counter-measure, they impose duties under the multilateral WTO regime.
  • Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products.

GSTN unveils offline option for GSTR-3B returns filing

  • The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) has released an offline facility that will allow taxpayers to finalise their GSTR-3B forms on their own computers before uploading it onto the portal.
  • The deadline for the filing of the GSTR-3B form for September was October 20. Taxpayers have to file the summary GSTR-3B forms each month till January.

Govt. plans to boost rural employment

  • The Rural Development Ministry, in a bid to addresss one of the biggest challenges for the Modi government, is in the midst of examining proposals that promises to leapfrog job creation for the rural youth.
  • The proposals emerged from a two-day conclave the Ministry hosted last week, that was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Several out of the box suggestions such as a migrant tracking system, low-cost accommodation for urban workers, and changing the word “labour” to “professional workers,” are now being compiled into a draft note that will eventually be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • “Our ministry already runs the biggest rural employment programme in the form of MNREGA. Now, we are focussing on specific livelihood missions to scale up employability of rural youth,” said a senior official of the ministry, who did not wish to be identified.
  • The note on skill development, accessed by The Hindu , points out that the Ministry’s flagship skill development programme — Deen Dayal Updadhaya Gramin Kaushal Yojana — needs to “reinvent itself to reach the next level.”
  • Experts have suggested a cluster approach, where villages with similar socio-economic conditions should be clubbed and every village should have a gram vikas prerak (village development motivator), and call the “bottom of the pyramid as the foundation of the pyramid.”

Rural digital index

  • “Like a smart city index, we need to have a rural digital index,” the note points out and says skill development programmes of the government should work backwards from the future and link it to the market demands.
  • “Link skill to entrepreneurship development and do not over-emphasize wage employment,” reads one of the 18 recommendations that have so far been crystallized.

Most pollution-linked deaths occur in India

  • India is ranked number one globally on the toll taken by pollution, with a staggering 2.51 million deaths in 2015, an international commission has reported. Of an estimated 9 million premature deaths linked to pollution worldwide, the country accounted for about 28%.
  • Air pollution, the leading cause, killed 6.5 million people around the world. India and Bangladesh recorded the largest increases in pollution-related deaths among the 10 most populous countries for the year. The results of the study were published in the journal The Lancet .

The leading cause

  • Nearly a quarter of all deaths in India in 2015 were attributed to pollution; Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, and Kenya too reported one in four deaths due to the same cause. Again, air pollution took the heaviest toll in India (1.81 million), followed by water (0.64 million).
  • Ambient air pollution was the leading cause in the country, while deaths from household air polluted by solid fuels came a close second, at 0.97 million. Half a million deaths were caused by unsafe water sources, while unsafe sanitation was behind 0.32 million deaths.
  • China had the second highest mortality from air pollution at 1.58 million, while water pollution in the neighbouring country was linked to about 34,000 deaths, compared with 0.64 million in India.
  • Particulate matter pollution in the air was severe in several cities in India and China: average annual concentrations of PM 2.5 (particulates less than 2.5 microns in width) were greater than 100 microgrammes per cubic metre. More than half of all global deaths due to ambient air pollution occurred in India and China during the year of study, the report said.

Diseases implicated

  • Deaths linked to air pollution were a result of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pollution has been responsible for most non-communicable disease deaths, The Lancet said, pointing to industrialisation, urbanisation and globalisation as the drivers, and calling for remedial measures.
  • In 2015, all forms of pollution combined were responsible for 21% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, 26% due to ischaemic heart disease, 23% due to stroke, 51% due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 43% due to lung cancer, the report said. “Pollution was also responsible for three times as many deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined,” it added.
  • The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health is a two-year project that involved over 40 international health and environmental authors. The report was led by Philip Landrigan from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, U.S.