31 , March 2018

15th Finance Commission to rethink using 2011 census data for disbursing tax revenues among states

The 15th Finance Commission is re-evaluating using the 2011 census data to distribute its pooled tax revenues among the states, and will go for public discussion in mid-April amid growing protests from the southern states, which feel that the system is rigged against them.

The newly constituted 15th Finance Commission, under the chairmanship of N K Singh, had said that it would take into consideration the 2011 Census for distributing the pooled tax, and not the 1971 Census numbers considered by previous Finance Commissions.

This sparked a controversy, as the southern states felt that they would be big losers if the 2011 census was taken into consideration for distributing pooled tax revenues, as population growth was faster in the northern states.

The states of the south have nearly reached replacement levels of population growth. Yet population is a prominent criterion for devolution of Central taxes.

1.Kaziranga finds a dozen reasons to be happy
Source: The Hindu

Kaziranga’s iconic one-horned rhino population has risen by 12 individuals. The latest headcount of the armour-plated herbivore in Assam’s world-famous reserve put the estimated number at 2,413 rhinos. This is an increase of a dozen over the 2015 figure.

  • Fewer rhinos may have been sighted this time due to the incomplete burning of tall grasses and reeds
  • This could be due to high moisture content
  • Burning of grasses is necessary for regeneration of low-lying vegetation in the 434 sq. km. park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also faces annual floods.

Data released by the Assam Forest Department show that Kaziranga National Park now has 1,641 adult rhinos, of which 793 are females, 642 males and 206 ‘un-sexed’, which means the gender could not be ascertained.

Census at other places:

  • Kaziranga is the second of four habitats where the census was conducted.
  • The first was at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati, where the count this time was 102, up from 93 in 2012.
  • The census at Manas National Park was over, and it would be done on April 2 in Orang National Park.

IRV 2020:

In 2005, the Assam Forest Department, in partnership with the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and World Wide Fund (WWF) India, launched the ‘Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020).’

  • Goals: The goal is to reduce risks to India’s rhino population by ensuring that the animals are spread throughout multiple parks with favourable habitat to encourage population growth.
  • Project partners: Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, WWF, IRF, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service
    Location: Kaziranga, Orang and Manas National Parks and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, India
  • Activities:Anti-poaching, monitoring, translocations and community conservation

2.In Haryana, the making of an Indian brain template
Source: The Hindu

A group of scientists is preparing a one-of-its-kind database of brain images that, when compiled together, could result in a so-called Indian Brain Template (IBT). The research is being carried out at National Brain Research Centre (NBRC)

  • It will serve as a guide to neuroscientists and surgeons, who have so far based their knowledge of intricate brain anatomy on Caucasian models
  • Scientists will be looking out for the quantity of a molecule called glutathione, an antioxidant known to help repair cell damage
  • Reduced glutathione concentrations in the parietal cortical region — near the back of the brain near where the skull bulges — may help predict Alzheimer’s disease

National Brain Research Centre (NBRC):

  • The National Brain Research Centre is a neuroscience research group, situated in Haryana, India
  • It is an Autonomous Government Institute accredited with the deemed university status and is a nodal centre under Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India
  • The centre is dedicated to provide infrastructural facilities and a coordinated multidisciplinary team to work at the frontiers of neuroscience research and network the existing groups
  • Research carried out at NBRC encompasses the breadth of neuroscience from Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Developmental Neuroscience, Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience to Computational Neuroscience and Brain Imaging

3.Interstitium: The latest organ discovered in human body
Source: The Hindu

Scientists have discovered a new organ in the human body known as the Interstitium and it is found everywhere in our bodies, acting as a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.

  • It lies beneath the top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles. The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body.
  • Scientists say, it may even be one of the largest organs in the body. The organ acts like a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.

The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body and is made up of both strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout.

Functions of the organ:

  • Interstitial spaces are organized by a collagen “mesh”, can shrink, expand, and “may thus serve as shock absorbers.”
  • These “dynamically compressible and distensible sinuses” act as thoroughfares to transport critical fluids within organs and around the body.
  • The Interstitium plays an important role in carrying lymph, the clear fluid that also travels through lymphatic vessels and supports immunity

Significance of the discovery:The discovery of the fluid ‘highway’ could help to explain how cancer spreads in the body, and pave the way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.

4.E-way bill mandatory for inter-state movement of goods from Sunday
Source: Live Mint

Businesses and transporters moving goods worth over Rs50,000 from one state to another will have to carry an electronic or e-way bill from 1 April. The e-way bill provision of the goods and services tax (GST) was first introduced on 1 February

Changes in the system:

  • With several states also starting to generate intra-state e-way bills on the portal, the system developed a snag
  • The GSTN has now activated only that facility on its portal where an e-way bill can be generated when goods are transported from one state to another by either road, railways, airways or vessels
  • The system has been designed and developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC)

E-way bill:

  • E-way Bill is an electronic way bill for movement of goods which can be generated on the E-way Bill Portal
  • Transport of goods of more than Rs. 50,000 (Single Invoice/bill/delivery challan) in value in a vehicle cannot be made by a registered person without an E-way bill
  • When an E-way bill is generated a unique E-way bill number (EBN) is allocated and is available to the supplier, recipient, and the transporter
  • An e-way bill is valid for 1 day for distance less Than 100 Kms and additional 1 day for every additional 100 Kms or part thereof
  • The validity of E-way bill can be extended

5.‘Monetary policy not apt to ensure financial stability’
Source: The Hindu

Monetary policy transmission improves if friction in the financial system diminishes, according to the findings of a study by the Development Research Group (DRG) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The DRG is constituted by the apex bank in its Department of Economic and Policy Research to carry out quick policy-oriented research on subjects of current interest.

Study model:

The DRG study — ‘Role of financial frictions in monetary policy transmission in India’ — developed a New Keynesian Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (NK-DSGE) model with an imperfectly competitive banking sector and examined the role of various financial frictions in monetary policy transmission (MPT) in India.

Financial market frictions: The credit channel-based explanation of MPT attributes weak transmission of monetary policy in emerging market and developing economies to the predominance of financial market frictions.


  • The study findings show MPT improved as friction in the financial system diminished.
  • Adjusting the policy interest rate to smooth out the credit cycle exacerbates volatility of inflation and output
  • It suggested that inflation stabilization was the most desirable policy option for the RBI as it minimized the welfare loss irrespective of policy rules
  • Overall, it appears that targeting financial stability through monetary policy rule may not be appropriate for the purpose of economic stabilization.

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