India’s 1st Maritime Heritage Museum to be Set Up In Gujarat

Government has decided to build India’s 1st National Maritime Heritage Museum by collaborating archaeologists from CSIR-NIO & NIOT at Lothal, a Harappan site on the Saurashtra coast in Gujarat which is also the site of one of the oldest ports in India dating back to the Bronze Age.

Crux of the Matter
  • The museum is being set up with technical help from the Portuguese Maritime Heritage Museum.
  • The museum will be an independent research centre of underwater archaeology for the reconstruction of maritime history and the archaeology of boat building.
  • It will have on display salvaged material from shipwreck sites in the Indian Ocean waters.
  • According to UNESCO, there are an estimated three million undiscovered shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor out of which many of them got wrecked in Indian coastal waters; thus these studies have vast potential along with India’s rich maritime history.
  • Studying sunken ships could fill the gaps in India’s maritime history and trade links with other countries. 

Maritime Archaeology is a discipline within archaeology as a whole that specifically studies human interaction with the sea. In India, shipwreck studies were initiated in 1989 off the Sunchi Reef in Goa waters after which many shipwrecks were recovered. Maritime archaeological sites often result from shipwrecks or sometimes seismic activity, and thus represent a moment in time rather than a slow deposition of material accumulated over a period of years, as is the case with port-related structures such as piers, wharves, docks and jetties where objects are lost or thrown off structures over extended periods of time. More Info

Research Finds $100 Billion Tax Gap in Top Six Silicon Valley Giants

According to a new analysis by Fair Tax Mark, a British organization assessed global tax payments from Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft between 2010 and 2019 and has accused a combined “tax gap” of more than $100 billion.

Crux of the Matter
  • The research looked at tax provisions which are the amount companies set aside in their financial reports to pay taxes and compared those to the amounts that were actually handed over to the government. The difference between these combined for the six companies is nearly $100.2 billion.
  • Amazon is named as the worst offender as it had paid only $3.4 billion in income taxes since 2010 which is 12.7% of its profits despite corporate tax in the U.S. being set at 35% for 7 years and 21% from last 3 years.
  • Facebook has the second biggest tax gap with 10.2% of its profit paid as tax made over the decade. Its has only 5% foreign tax charge which is the lowest amongst the six companies.
  • Google is ranked third with its taxes amounting to 15.8% of profits and foreign tax charge at 7.1%.
  • Netflix ranks fourth with 15.8% of its profit paid as tax followed by Apple on the fifth position with a tax rate of 17.1%.
  • Microsoft paid the highest rate of tax of 16.8%.
  • Report claims that profits continue to be “shifted to tax havens, especially Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.”

Silicon Valley is a region in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California that serves as a global centre for high technology, innovation, and social media. The word “silicon” in the name originally referred to a large number of innovators and manufacturers in the region specialising in silicon-based MOS transistors and integrated circuit chips. The area is now home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of more than 30 businesses in the Fortune 1000, and thousands of startup companies. Silicon Valley also accounts for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States, which has helped it to become a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and scientific development. More Info

Trump Takes U-turn on Decision to Declare Mexican Drug Cartels as Terrorist Groups

The US President Donald Trump took a u-turn and put his decision to declare the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups on hold in the face of criticism from his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Crux of the Matter
  • In the wake of the killing in Mexico of 9 American mothers and children, with dual citizenship, US President Donald Trump had announced a few days ago that sanctions would be imposed on the Mexican drug cartels.
  • Trump had announced that the Mexican drug cartels would be designated as terrorists, their finances would be disrupted, assets frozen and travel banned.
  • After Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized Trump’s plan, and sought the US cooperation in the fight against the drug cartels and not intervention, Trump is now talking in terms of “stepping up joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”

The Mexican drug war is an ongoing asymmetric low-intensity conflict between the Mexican government and various drug trafficking syndicates. When the Mexican military began to intervene in 2006, the government’s principal goal was to reduce drug-related violence. The Mexican government has asserted that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on preventing drug trafficking and demand, which is left to U.S. functionaries. More Info

Centre seeks SC review on SC/ST Creamy Layer Exclusion

The Centre has sought a review and asked the Supreme Court to refer to a seven-judge Bench on whether the creamy layer concept should apply or not to the Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes while providing them reservation in promotions.

Crux of the Matter
  • The fresh petition was filed by Samta Andolan Samiti and O.P. Shukla, a former IAS officer.
  • The SC had earlier said that well-off SCs and STs cannot be granted benefits of reservations.
  • In September last year, a five-judge Bench had unanimously agreed with a 2006 judgment and had upheld the application of the creamy layer principle in promotions.
  • The 2018 judgment by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman also had refused the government’s plea to refer the 2006 Nagaraj case judgment to a seven-judge Bench.
  • On December 2, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal urged the court to reconsider the ruling and refer the Nagaraj case judgment to a seven-judge bench led by CJI Sharad A. Bobde, who has agreed to hear the case after two weeks.

Scheduled Caste (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged people in India. The terms are recognised in the Constitution of India and the groups are designated in one or other of the categories. For much of the period of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, they were known as the Depressed Classes. They comprise about 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of India’s population (according to the 2011 census). The Constitution lists 1,108 castes across 29 states in its First Schedule, and 744 tribes across 22 states. Since the independence of India, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given Reservation status, guaranteeing political representation. More Info

U.S Treasury Department Takes Action Against Dridex Malware

U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) stepped up and took action against Evil Corp which is a Russia-based cybercriminal organization responsible for the development and distribution of the Dridex malware which has resulted into more than $100 million of theft across 40 countries.

Crux of the Matter
  • Dridex malware is used to infect computers and harvest login credentials from banks and financial institutions.
  • This action was carried in coordination with the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA). 
  • Department of Justice also charged two of Evil Corp’s members and announced a reward for information up to $5 million leading to the capture or conviction of Evil Corp’s leader.
  • Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury said, “This coordinated action is sanctioning Evil Corp as part of sweeping action and will disrupt the massive phishing campaigns orchestrated by this Russian-based hacker group.”

Evil Corp is the Russia-based cybercriminal organization run by a group of individuals based in Moscow. They are responsible for the development and distribution of Dridex malware. Dridex also is known as Bugat and Cridex is a form of malware that specializes in stealing bank credentials via a system that utilizes macros from Microsoft Word. The targets of this malware are Windows users who open an email attachment in Word or Excel, causing macros to activate and download Dridex, infecting the computer and opening the victim to banking theft. Once a system is infected, Evil Corp uses compromised credentials to fraudulently transfer funds from victims’ bank accounts to those of accounts controlled by the group.  As of 2016, Evil Corp had harvested banking credentials from customers at approximately 300 banks and financial institutions in over 40 countries mostly in the US and UK.