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Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by the Parliament
The Parliament passed The Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which became the first legislation to be passed by the newly constituted 17th Lok Sabha. It will replace the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which was promulgated in March 2019 and amends Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act 2005.
i. The new bill amends the definition of “person” under Section 2(v) of the SEZ Act 2005 to include ‘trusts’. SEZs Act, 2005, did not permit ‘trusts’ to set up units in SEZs.
ii. According to the law, an individual, a Hindu divided family, a company, co-operative society or a firm fall in the definition of a “person”.
iii. As on March 31, 2019, the investment in SEZs was over Rs 5 lakh crore and the employment was over 20 lakh in SEZs. Exports from SEZs was more than Rs 7 lakh crore.
SEZs are specially demarcated areas in the country that have different regulations to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Such areas are considered outside the customs territory. They are entitled to various tax incentives to boost manufacturing, promote exports as well as generate employment.
‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme will be available across the country from July 1, 2020
The central government’s ambitious project of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’, under which beneficiaries can buy subsidized foodgrains from any ration shop in the country will begin on 1 July 2020.
i. Deadline: The Centre has given states and Union Territories time till June 30, 2020, to use point of sale (PoS) machines in the ration shops and roll out the scheme.
ii. Present status: 77% of the ration shops across the country have PoS machines.
iii. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Tripura are the states already providing portability of Public Distribution System (PDS) entitlements.
iv. NSA: Since November 2016, the government is implementing the National Food Security Act (NSA), under which foodgrains are supplied every month at highly subsidized rates of Rs 1–3 per kg to over 80 crore people.
v. Fortified Grains: Distribution of fortified rice under the PDS on a pilot basis in one district each in 15 states from October-November.
Telecom Ministry forms committee under telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan to spell out revival plans for the Telecom sector
On June 28, 2019, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad formed a committee headed by Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan to look into the revival plans for Telecom sector which is under financial stress. It will review the issues in the sector and promote Ease of Doing Business (EDB).
i. The committee will submit the report in 2 weeks time.
ii. It will look into the previous recommendations provided by the telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and will consult Solicitor General, if it requires any clarity on issues.
iii. The committee will focus on the issues like reduction of levies and fees, such as licence fee, spectrum usage charge (SUC) and universal service levy along with review of definition of aggregated gross revenue.
iv. The Government also plans to have a revival plan for state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) on priority basis.
About Ministry of Communications & Information Technology:
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Departments: Department of Telecommunications, Department of Posts
Overview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Visit to Japan to attend the G20 Summit 2019, Osaka, Japan
The G20 (Group of 20) Summit 2019 was held at the International Exhibition Center, Osaka, Japan on June 28-29, 2019. It was the 14th meeting of the G20. The 2018 G20 Summit was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the 2020 G20 Summit will be held in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
i. Modi, Trump, Abe held 2nd Japan-America-India (JAI) trilateral talks in Osaka, Japan
ii. Prime Minister’s sherpa for the G20 summit Suresh Prabhu attended G20 Sherpa meeting at Osaka
iii. Authorities from the Japanese city of Kobe exchanged a Letter of Intent (LoI) with their counterparts in Ahmedabad, Gujarat for a sister city partnership…………….Click here to Read more
India slips 1 place to 74th in terms of money in Swiss Banks
According to the annual banking statistics report compiled by the Swiss National Bank (SNB), India has slipped to 74th place in terms of money parked by its citizens with Swiss banks by the end of 2018. While with maximum holdings, UK (United Kingdom) has remained top in the list.
i. India’s holding fell by nearly 6% in 2018 to 955 million Swiss francs (about Rs.6,757 crore)-a second-lowest level in over two decades.
ii. The top-ranked countries in the list are the UK, the US (United States), West Indies, France, and Hong Kong…………………..Click here to Read more
ISA’s First Joint Security Exercise named ‘ISALEX19’ held in Abu Dhabi
On June 30, 2019, The first edition of the joint security exercise of International Security Alliance (ISA), ISALEX19 held in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates).
i. Aim The exercise was aimed at testing readiness of the different teams and to evaluate the tools, strategies, and procedures developed jointly between member countries.
ii. ISA: It was launched in Abu Dhabi in 2017 and comprises nine countries, the UAE, France, the Italian Republic, Bahrain, Morocco, Spain, Senegal, Singapore, and the Slovak Republic.
iii. Operation: Preventing and combating transnational organized extremist crimes through joint security cooperation projects.
India Refrains From UNGA voting on Capital Punishment
India has abstained from voting on a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution to find the possibility to end the trade in goods used for capital punishment and torture.
i. The First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN (United Nations) Paulomi Tripathi stated that it was unacceptable to place death penalty on par with torture.
ii. Resolution: The UNGA (193 members) adopted the resolution ‘Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope, and parameters for possible common international standards’.
iii. Result: 81 voted in favor, 20 voted against and 44 abstained from the resolution.
iv. India’s statement:
- Incorporating capital punishment into the scope of this resolution raised concerns about making an attempt to place it on par with torture.
- It upholding the commitment to prevent torture and other inhuman punishment.
- Freedom from torture is a human right which must be respected and protected under all circumstances.
- Torture is a crime and therefore, unlawful.
President: María Fernanda Espinosa (73rd session), Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (designated for the 74th session from September 2019)
Headquarters: New York, United States
India signs worth Rs.200 cr deal with Russia
On June 30, 2019, The Government of India signed a deal with Russia for acquiring the ‘Strum Ataka’ anti-tank missiles. The deal is worth around Rs 200 Crore.
i. It will give an added capability to the Mi-35 attack choppers to take out enemy tanks and other armored elements.
ii. The deal has been signed under the emergency clause as a result of which the missile would be delivered within a time of 3 months of the signing of the contract.
iii. Mi-35: These are IAF’s (Indian Air Force) existing attack choppers are set to be replaced with the Apache gunships being acquired from the US (United States).
iv. Earlier, IAF signed Rs 300 crore deals with an Israeli defense firm to procure a batch of ‘Spice 2000’ guided bombs earlier under the emergency provisions. They were used in the Balakot air strikes.
MGIT-BP, India-assisted IT- Biotechnology Park inaugurated in Cote d’Ivoire
On June 27, 2019, The Mahatma Gandhi IT and Biotechnology Park (MGIT-BP), built with the assistance from India was inaugurated at Grand-Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire, a West African country. It was jointly inaugurated by Ambassador of India to Cote d’Ivoire, Sailas Thangal and Cote d’Ivoire’s Vice President, Daniel Kablan Duccan. MGIT-BP is an important milestone for the 150th celebration of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
i. Nature: It is a dedicated Free Trade Zone (FTZ) for IT and Biotechnology.
ii. Fund: It was built through EXIM ( Export-Import) Bank’s Lines of Credit (LoC) of $20 million.
iii. Project: It included 2 parts- Architectural concept & design for the buildings of FTZ and construction of the main building to host IT enterprises which was implemented by Shapoorji Pallonji, an Indian Conglomerate company. Second part included supply and commissioning of equipment which consisted computer assembly plant, VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) with satellite earth station, networking lab, human DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) lab, data storage area network, an audio-visual lab, and a power generator which was implemented by United Telecom Limited (UTL), an Indian company.
iv. Importance: It will consolidate the cooperation and bilateral relations between the countries, in the field of the transfer of technology. It will help in sharing the development experience to build capacities of partner countries in Africa in order to face the challenges of the knowledge economy in the 21st century.
About Cote d’Ivoire:
♦ Capital: Yamoussoukro
♦ Currency: CFA franc, West African CFA franc
BANKING & FINANCE
FinMin to launch 11th tranche of Electoral Bonds sale to start from July 1
The Finance Ministry of India has launched the 11th tranche of Electoral Bonds sale from July 1-10. In this regard, India’s largest Public Sector Bank (PSB), State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds in the XI phase of sale through its 29 branches. This is the first issuance of electoral bonds after the formation of the new government.
In order to bring transparency in political funding, electoral bonds are alternative to cash donations made to political parties. These were introduced in 2018 through the Electoral Bond Scheme by govt.
i. Eligibility: Electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or entities incorporated or established in India. Also, registered political parties that have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last election of the Lok Sabha or legislative assembly.
ii. Validity: The electoral bonds will be valid for 15 calendar days from the date of issue and no payment will be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period. The electoral bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account will be credited on the same day.
ii. Previous Tranche: The sale of 1st batch of electoral bonds was from 1-10 March 2018, 2nd phase 2-10 April, 3rd phase 1-10 May, 4th tranche 2-11 July, 5th 1-10 October, 6th phase 1-10 November, 7th phase 1-10 January and 8th phase 1-15 March, 9th phase 1-20 April and 10th between 6-15 May 2019.
About Finance Ministry:
Establishment – 1946
Minister – Nirmala Sitharaman
Minister of State – Anurag Singh Thakur
Departments – Department of Financial Services, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Expenditure, Department of Revenue, and Department of Investment and Public Asset Management
IL&FS board sets up sub-committee to oversee disinvestment process
On the lines of Reserve Bank of India’s June 7 circular on the resolution of bad loans, the debt-ridden Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. is constituting a sub-committee to oversee the process of divestment of its assets. The decision has been taken during its board meeting held on June 28.
i. The six-member committee will comprise of 4 directors namely Vineet Nayyar, CS Rajan, Bijay Kumar, N Srinivasan, and COO N Sivaraman. They will discuss and finalize the asset-wise framework of resolution with lenders.
ii. LIC is the IL&FS biggest shareholder with a more than 25% stake while Japan’s ORIX Corp with a 23.54% stake and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 12.56%.
Chairman – Uday Kotak
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
In recognition of best practices in CSR, NALCO has selected for the prestigious President’s award
A Navaratna Company based on Odisha, The National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), has been selected for the President’s Award for Excellent CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme.
For introducing and implementing star rating schemes like ‘Nalco ki Ladli’, Corporate Affairs Department of the Central Government has selected the NALCO at the national level.
i. Nalco ki Ladli: The flagship scheme provides learning and education opportunities for poor girl students belonging from the marginalized section.
ii. Aliali Jhia: In 2015, NALCO started a scheme “Aliali Jhia” on the line of “BETI BACHAO BETI PADHAO” aims to promote the education of girls of BPL (Below Poverty Line) families.
iii. Beneficiaries: At present, NALCO has adopted 416 poor girl students from 66 villages.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
MTNL Chairman PK Bharwar assumes additional responsibility as BSNL CMD
MTNL(Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) P.K. Purwar has accepted his additional post as CMD of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for a period of three months from July 1, 2019.
i. Department of Telecommunications has appointed him as CMD of BSNL till the regular CMD will be appointed to the post.
ii. He succeeds Anupam Shrivastava who has resigned on 30.06.2019. Pawar will handle both organizations and he will follow the directions of DoT to solve the worst financial situation facing by BSNL.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
China tests JL-3 Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile: Report
On June 29,2019, China has tested its latest submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), JL-3.
i. The JL-3 is expected to have a range of around 14,000 kilometers, with a capacity to carry 10 independent guided nuclear warheads.
ii. It is expected to reach targets farther away with higher accuracy and capable of carrying more warheads than China’s current SLBMs.
iii. A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile capable of being launched from submarines.
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Veer Chotrani won Asian U-19 champion in Squash
Veer Chotrani became third Indian after he won 26th Asian junior Individual squash championship 2019 in the U-19 category at Macau, China. It was organized by Macau Squash Association.
ii. In the girls’ U-15 final, India’s Yuvna Gupta settled for silver after she lost to Aira Binti Azman of Malaysia.
Asian Squash Federation:-
Headquarters – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
President – David Y.Y. Mui
Max Verstappen won 2019 Austrian Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (Belgium) beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and won the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix.
ii. Five-times world champion, Mercedes Lewis Hamilton finished with fifth place.
2nd anniversary of GST celebrated on July 1, 2019
On July 1, 2019, The Government of India celebrated the 2nd anniversary of GST(Goods and Services Tax). On this occasion, the Finance Ministry, Government of India introduced the new return system on a trial basis on this day, which will come into force from 1st of October, 2019.
i. First GST Day was celebrated on 1 July 2018.
ii. New GST return system: Sahaj and Sugam returns for small taxpayers are proposed by the Finance ministry.
iii. Single Cash Ledger: Rationalisation of Cash Ledger in such a manner that earlier 20 heads are merged into 5 major heads. There is only one Cash Ledger for Tax, interest, penalty, fee & others.
iv. Single Refund Disbursing: The Central or State Government which sanctions refund disburses all four major heads of refunds namely CGST, SGST, IGST, and Cess.
v. Threshold limit for goods: Threshold Limit of Rs 40 Lacs is offered of suppliers of goods as per the choice of States.
vi. Composition Scheme for Services: Composition Scheme for small service providers up to annual turnover of Rs 50 lacs with a tax rate of 6%.
vii. E-invoicing system: Electronic invoicing system in a phase-wise manner for B2B (Business to Business) transactions is proposed to be introduced.
viii. GSTAT: GST Appellate Tribunals are being established at various State Headquarters and area benches also.
National Doctors day celebrated on July 1, 2019
National Doctors’ Day was celebrated throughout India on July 1, 2019. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of doctors and the crucial role they play in our day to day lives. The theme of National Doctor’s day 2019 is “Zero tolerance to violence against doctors and clinical establishment”. It is meant to raise awareness about violence happening with doctors across India.
i. This day marks the birth and death anniversary of the most famous physician of India Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (Dr. B C Roy).
ii. Dr. B C Roy was born on 1st July 1882. He had played a crucial role in the formation of the Indian Medical Association in 1928 and also in the formation of the Medical Council of India (MCI).
iii. In 1991, the Indian government declared July 1 as National Doctors day.
Tamil Nadu declared ‘Tamil Yeoman’ or ‘Tamil Maravan’ as its state butterfly
‘Tamil Yeoman’, a kind of butterfly found in the Western Ghats declared as Tamilnadu state butterfly. It is also called as ‘Tamil Maravan’. Tamil Nadu has become the fifth state in the country to announce its state butterfly. Maharashtra was the first to declare Blue Mormon as its state butterfly, followed by Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern bird wings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock)
i. Its scientific name was Cirrochroa thais. ‘Tamil Yeoman’ is one of 30 butterfly species which found in the Western Ghats.
ii. These butterflies are known to migrate from one place to another. These butterflies are yellow and dark brown in color.
Info about other state’s butterfly:-
Maharashtra was the first state that declared Blue Mormon as its state butterfly. After that Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern bird wings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock) had declared its state butterflies.
Other icons of Tamilnadu:-
Animal – Nilgiri Tahr
Bird – Emerald Dove
Tree – Palm tree
Flower – Gloriosa
Fruit – Jack fruit
Goa Govt clears amendment to allow women to work at night
The State Government of Goa cleared amendments to Factories Act,1948 allowing women to work legally during night hours (between 7 pm to 6 am) in factories of the state.
i. It would bring about equality at the workplace and give trouble-free space to women to excel in their careers.
ii. Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948 prohibit women to work during night hours.
iii. The state cabinet had also given its approval for an amendment to the Act allowing factories to extend their working hours from 75 hours to 125 hours per quarter which would help them increase production.
Malayalam film director Babu Narayanan passes away
Director Babu Narayanan, a notable director in Malayalam film industry passed away at Thrissur, Kerala due to cancer. He was born in Kozhikode(also known as Calicut), Kerala.
ii. His last individual film was the 2013 Malayalam film ‘To Noora with Love’.
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