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23rd GST Council Meet held in Guwahati, 28% Tax Only For 50 Items
23rd meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council headed by Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley was held in Guwahati, Assam on November 10, 2017. Decisions taken during this meeting of GST council has brought in a comprehensive overhaul of GST rates. Besides return filing has been eased and more relief has been provided to small and medium enterprises.
i. GST rate on 177 items has been reduced from 28% to 18%. Now only 50 items, mostly demerit, sin and luxury goods will attract 28% GST rate.
ii. This decision will have a revenue implication of Rs 20000 crore annually……………………Click here to Read more
Telangana passes three bills including one on prevention of dangerous activities
Telangana State Assembly has passed three key bills including Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral traffic offenders and Land grabbers (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
i. The amendment to Prevention of Dangerous Activities Bill has been brought in to replace a Government ordinance that was passed about 6 months ago to curb illegal activities.
ii. ‘Telangana Road Development Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ is the second bill that was passed. This bill seeks development of roads and highways by securing funds from financial institutions.
iii. ‘Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2017’ is the third bill that was passed. As per the provisions of this bill, shops and commercial establishments will be given instant licences. Objective of this provision is to enhance Ease of Doing Business in Telangana.
Quick Facts about Telangana:
♦ Capital – Hyderabad
♦ Current Chief Minister – K Chandrashekar Rao
♦ Current Governor – E S L Narasimhan
Second Meeting of Economic Advisory Council held in New Delhi
On 10th November 2017, the second meeting of the Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (EAC-PM) was held in New Delhi.2nd meeting of EAC-PM:
i. The meeting was chaired by Bibek Debroy. It was attended by renowned economists Dr. Surjit Bhalla, Dr. Rathin Roy, Dr. Ashima Goyal, Dr. Shamika Ravi and Member Secretary and Principal Adviser NITI Aayog, Ratan P. Watal.
ii. In the meeting road map towards skill development, job creation, enhanced resource investment in the social sector– including for Health and Education and for boosting Infrastructure financing were discussed.
iii. Recommendations for framework of Fifteenth Finance Commission, incentivisation of states for achieving health, education and social inclusion outcomes were formulated.
iv. Improvements in exports and employment potential were also discussed, including through transformation of India’s Gold Market.
♦ Chairman – Bibek Debroy
♦ Member – Secretary – Ratan Watal
Environment ministry forms 7-member panel under CK Mishra for air pollution in Delhi
As Delhi’s air is turning toxic over recent weeks and reaching crisis levels, the Centre stepped in and decided to set up a 7-member-committee of secretaries from the Centre, Delhi Government and experts to continuously monitor and implement a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) that would include control of road and construction of dust garbage burning, control of power plants and industrial emissions, entry of vehicles and several other related factors.
i. The committee will include the secretary, department of science & technology, secretary, department of biotechnology, the additional secretary of the Niti Aayog, chief secretary of Delhi, the chairman, Central Pollution Control Board and a representative of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a policy think-ta
ii. As of now the committee will meet at least every 10 days and in the future at least once a month.
iii. The committee formed by the environment ministry will look to formulateshort-term and long-term plans.
iv. Short-term plans are to tackle the current problem of Delhi and the long-term plan will handle the issues on a country-wide basis in the future.
v. The names in the seven-member panel are yet to be finalised and details about them will be shared by the ministry as soon as it is available.
vi. The environment ministry’s plans to tackle the pollution issue comes right after the announcement of AAP government’s Odd-Even rule in Delhi to tackle air pollution crisis there.
vii. The rule will be in place in Delhi from November 13 to November 17.
Kiren Rijiju inaugurates ‘India Disaster Response Summit’ in New Delhi
On November 9, 2017, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju inaugurated ‘India Disaster Response Summit’ in New Delhi.More Information about ‘India Disaster Response Summit’:
i. This Summit was jointly organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and social networking site Facebook.
ii. India has become the first country to partner with Facebook on disaster response.
iii. During the Summit, deliberations were held on how best to leverage social media platforms to ‘prepare, respond and recover during and after a disaster.
iv. While addressing the Summit, Mr. Rijiju stated that as these days social media occupies an important place in everybody’s day to day life, it can play a vital role in information communication, especially during disasters.
v. During the Summit, Facebook introduced a Disaster Information Volunteers (DIV) programme. Under DIV, a network of trained volunteers would provide supplementary information on disasters in their local communities. This information would assist Government in carrying out relief work.
Haryana becomes first state to treat Hepatitis-C patients through oral medicine
Haryana has emerged as the first state in India to treat Hepatitis-C patients through oral medicine.
i. This announcement was made by Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, during a training workshop organised by the health department.
ii. Hepatitis C is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. It spreads when blood of a healthy individual comes in contact with an infected person’s blood. This may happen through multiple means, with blades used by barbers being the primary one.
iii. The market cost of medicine and treatment for hepatitis C is about Rs 28,000 to Rs 30,000. However, Haryana State Government will provide it free of cost.
iv. Mr. Vij also mentioned that Haryana will be the first state where 35 to 40 health tests would be conducted for everyone by visiting houses of all residents. The state health department will also maintain the record of these tests.
India re-elected as member of UNESCO’s executive board
On November 10, 2017, India got re-elected as a member of the Executive Board of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The executive board is the top decision- making body of UNESCO.
i. India was re-elected to executive Board during 39th session of the general conference of UNESCO in Paris, France.
ii. UNESCO’s General Conference comprises representatives of member countries and meets every two years.
iii. UNESCO’s policies and major areas of work are determined at these General Conferences.
iv. General Conference sets programmes and the budget of the UNESCO, elects the members of the executive board and also appoints the director-general, every four years.
Quick facts about UNESCO:
♦ Formed on – November 16, 1945
♦ Objective – UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations which contributes to global peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms.
♦ Headquarters – Paris, France
♦ Current Director General – Audrey Azoulay
First ever International AYUSH Conference and Exhibition held in Dubai
On 9-11th November 2017, the International AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) Conference and Exhibition 2017 is held in Dubai.International AYUSH Conference and Exhibition 2017:
i. Minister for AYUSH Sripad Naik is on a three day visit to UAE to participate in the first ever International Ayush Conference and Exhibition in Dubai.
ii. This is the first ever conglomeration of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy practitioners, policy makers, industrialists, researchers and students across the world.
iii. Indian government has committed to provide 100 non-Indian students full scholarship if they study AYUSH in any of the public deemed universities across India.
iv. AYUSH ministry is also in touch with the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) to set up an AYUSH chair in Dubai.
About International AYUSH Conference and Exhibition 2017:
♦ Focal Theme – Lifestyle Diseases – Prevention and Management through AYUSH
♦ Venue – Dubai World Trade Centre
BANKING & FINANCE
IFAD approves USD 30 million for north east project
International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), an international financial institution and a specialised agency of the United Nations has approved a USD 30 million soft loans for fourth phase of the North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP).
More Information about NERCORMP:
i. NERCORMP is a livelihood and rural development project aimed to transform the lives of the poor and marginalized tribal families in several districts of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
ii. It is jointly administered by North Eastern Council(NEC) under Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
iii. During the first phase of NERCORMP (1999-2008), two districts each in Assam (Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao), Manipur (Ukhrul and Senapati) and Meghalaya (West Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills district) were covered.
iv. Under the fourth phase, the reach of the project will be extended to new districts.
Government triples home loan limit for central government employees to Rs 25 lakh
On 9th November 2017, the government raised the maximum amount that a central government employee can borrow from the government to Rs 25 lakh for new construction/purchase of new house/flat.Triples home loan limit – 7th pay commission:
i. The limit for home loan borrowing has been tripled for central government employees as per the 7th pay commission recommendations.
ii. Earlier this limit was only Rs 7.50 lakh. This move is going to benefit about 50 lakh central government employees all over India.
iii. The employee can borrow up to 34 months of the basic pay to a maximum of Rs 25 lakh, or cost of the house/flat, or the amount according to repaying capacity, whichever is the least.
iv. If both spouses are central government employees, they can take Housing Building Advance (HBA) either jointly, or separately. Also, the rate of Interest on HBA will be only 8.50% at simple interest.
About 7th Central Pay Commission (7CPC):
♦ Constituted in February 2014 to review the principles and structure of emoluments of all central government civilian employees including defence forces
RBI releases new outsourcing norms for NBFC
On November 9, 2017, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a notification outlining norms for outsourcing of functions/services by Non-Bank Financial Institution (NBFCs).
Some of the Important outsourcing norms to be followed by NBFCs:
i. As per the new norms, NBFCs cannot outsource core management functions like internal audit, management of investment portfolio, strategic and compliance functions for know your customer (KYC) norms and sanction of loans.
ii. Staff of service providers should have access to customer information only up to an extent which is required to perform the outsourced function.
iii. Boards of NBFCs should approve a code of conduct for direct sales and recovery agents. For debt collection, NBFCs and their outsourced agents should not resort to intimidation or harassment of any kind.
iv. All NBFCs’ have been directed to set up a grievance redressal machinery, which will also deal with the issues relating to services provided by the outsourced agency.
Federal Bank gets RBI nod to open offices in Kuwait, Singapore
Federal Bank has obtained Reserve Bank of India (RBI’s) approval to open representative offices in Kuwait and Singapore.i. Year-on-year, Federal Bank has been handling increasing inflow of foreign remittances and has now emerged as a preferred banker for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
ii. Opening up of representative offices in Kuwait and Singapore will facilitate liaising with NRIs for catering to their various financial requirements.
iii. Federal Bank already has its representative offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and has received approval from RBI for opening a representative office in Bahrain.
iv. It is to be noted that during last financial year, around 15 per cent of the total personal inward remittances to India were handled by Federal Bank.
Quick Facts about Federal Bank
♦ Founded in – 1931
♦ Headquarters – Kochi, Kerala
♦ Current MD & CEO – Shyam Srinivasan
RBI directed banks to provide banking Services at Home for those above 70
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to provide doorstep banking facilities to senior citizens of more than 70 years of age and differently-abled persons including the visually-impaired.
i. The facilities that are be extended include basic banking services like pick-up of cash and instruments against receipt, delivery of cash against withdrawal from accounts, delivery of demand drafts, chequebooks and submission of Know Your Customer (KYC) documents.
ii. Besides, banks have been asked to provide a minimum of 25 cheque leaves every year for a savings bank account free of charge, for which physical presence of any customer, including senior citizens and differently-abled persons, should not be insisted.
iii. Moreover, a fully KYC compliant account should automatically be converted into a ‘Senior Citizen Account’ based on the date of birth available in the bank’s records.
iv. These instruction are to be implemented by December 31, 2017.
v. These instructions are not only for public and private sector banks but also for small finance banks and payments banks.
FEMA norms eased to spur investment from overseas
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has simplified the Foreign Exchange Management regulations pertaining to Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India.
i. This has been done by putting all the 93 amendments to Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) under one notification.
ii. It is expected that this simplification measure will make it easier for foreign investors to invest in India.
iii. By referring this notification, anyone who wishes to invest in India, can know in which company he/she can invest, who can invest, how they can invest, how the money should come in, what is the reporting procedure.
iv. This notification by RBI has combined two existing regulations FEMA 20 and FEMA 24, which provides information on investment in an Indian company or a partnership, or in a limited liability partnership or in a partnership firm.
v. So far 60-70% of the contravention cases received by RBI were due to delays in reporting. As a solution to this issue, RBI has introduced late submission fee that allows an investor to regularise any contravention due to non-reporting, by paying the fee.
PayPal launches domestic operations in India
American Digital payments company PayPal has launched its domestic operations in India and will now provide digital payment solutions for merchants and customers in India.
i. In the Indian market, PayPal has been offering cross border payments since last ten years. It claims to control a third of India’s Business to Customer (B2C) export payments.
ii. Senior officials of PayPal have stated that PayPal’s brand is basically based on three pillars viz. reliability, safety and security. Adhering to this ideology, PayPal will offer its services with ‘Buyer and Seller protection’ as a differentiating factor to create its presence in the highly competitive digital payments space of India.
iii. This feature will include a 180-days dispute resolution window, wherein PayPal will refund the money if an online seller does not send the goods purchased by the customer.
iv. Similalry, PayPal will also pay the merchant in case the customer does not end up paying for the goods. Besides, for the merchants, PayPal will also provide back end data which should help them grow their business.
Quick facts about PayPal:
♦ Founded in – 1998
♦ Headquarters – California, US
♦ Current CEO – Dan Schulman
SEBI Imposes Fine on Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani’s Family for Manipulative Trading
India’s securities market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has penalised 22 entities for involvement in manipulative trading.i. One of these 22 entities is Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) that was found to be involved in manipulative trading through a listed firm called Sarang Chemicals.
ii. The alleged manipulative transactions by Mr. Rupani’s firm were done between January and June, 2011.
iii. Mr. Rupani’s firm has been asked to pay a Rs 15 lakh fine within 45 days.
iv. Mr. Vijay Rupani took charge as Chief Minister of Gujarat in August 2016.
PSFMC under Avinash K Srivastava decides to import onions through Govt agency
A panel led by India’s consumer affairs ministry under Avinash K Srivastavahas decided to import the onions through a government agency to increase the availability of the same, in the market on moderate prices.
i. The meeting of Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) headed by Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Shri Avinash K Srivastava was held in New Delhi on 09.11.2017.
ii. Additionally, it was also decided that the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation Of India Limited (NAFED) and Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) would obtain 10,000 MT and 2,000 MT onions respectively from producing areas, including Delhi, and supply it to consuming areas to enhance its availability and thus to control the high price.
iii. Onion prices have long been a sensitive political issue in India. A sharp rise in their prices in the past in India has even resulted in the government being toppled.
India first to partner with Facebook on disaster response
On 9th November 2017, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said that, India is the first country to partner with social networking site Facebook on disaster response.
India partners with Facebook for disaster response:
i. According to the Home Ministry, the programme in collaboration with Facebook, will be piloted in two disaster-prone states: Assam and Uttarakhand.
ii. Facebook will share its disaster maps, developed using aggregated, de-identified data, with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The maps can aid swift disaster response by providing real-time, actionable information.
iii .Kiren Rijiju said this while opening the ‘India Disaster Response Summit’, organised jointly by the NDMA and Facebook. The summit focused on the best way to leverage social media platforms to “prepare, respond and recover” during and after a disaster.
♦ Headquarters – California, US
♦ Chairman & CEO – Mark Zuckerberg
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Girija Devi to get posthumous Lifetime Achievement award
Eminent classical singer late Girija Devi will be honoured with the prestigious Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement on 17th November 2017 in New Delhi.Girija Devi – Lifetime Achievement Award:
i. The Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented by Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) to Girija Devi’s daughter, Sudha Datta, at Kamani Auditorium.
ii. The award was instituted six years ago in the memory of Delhi’s well-known art patron, Sumitra Charat Ram, by her daughter Shobha Deepak Singh.
iii. Padma Vibhushan awardee Girija Devi was a celebrated classical singer of the Seniya and Benaras gharana. She performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of thumri.
About Sumitra Charat Ram Award:
♦ Awarded to – individuals who have shown great contribution in Indian classical dance and music or other disciplines of Indian art during the last 15 years
UNHCR to get Mother Teresa Award 2017 for social justice
On 9th November 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was named as the recipient of the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, 2017 as an acknowledgement of its exceptional work worldwide.
UNHCR – Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice 2017:
i. The UNHCR provides humanitarian aid to innumerable people internally displaced by conflicts and helping stateless people all over the world.
ii. Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice was instituted by Harmony Foundation in 2005. This is the only official award in memory of Mother Teresa, who attained sainthood in September 2016.
iii. Harmony Foundation’s theme for 2017 is ‘Compassion Beyond Borders’. The Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice will be presented to the UNHCR at a function on 10th December 2017.
About United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):
♦ Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Head – Filippo Grandi
National Entrepreneurship Awards 2017 hosted by MSDE
On 9th November 2017, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) hosted the National Entrepreneurship Awards 2017 marking the completion of three years of its inception.National Entrepreneurship Awards:
i. The National Entrepreneurship Awards (NEA) was instituted by MSDE in 2016 to encourage entrepreneurship in India. This year 15 winners across various categories were awarded.
ii. Winners were given a cash award of Rs 5 lakh (enterprises and individuals) and Rs. 10 lakhs (organizations/institutes) along with a certificate and trophy recognizing their efforts of being the change agents in India’s development.
iii.Few of the awardees are mentioned below:
1.Mentor (Government) Category awarded to – Dr. Renu Swarup
2.Best State Engaging Apprentices awarded to – Haryana
3.Champion Sector Skill Council awarded to – Textile Sector Skill Council
4.Champion Corporate (Special Recognition) awarded to – ICICI Bank
About National Entrepreneurship Awards 2017:
♦ Host – Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE)
♦ Edition – 2nd
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Union minister Alphons elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan
On 9th November 2017, Union minister of state for tourism, Alphons Kannanthanam, was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan in a bypoll.
Alphons Kannanthanam – elected to Rajya Sabha:
i. The Rajya Sabha seat had fallen vacant after former Union minister Venkaiah Naidu was elected as the Vice-President in August 2017.
ii. Returning officer at the Rajasthan legislative assembly, Prithvi Raj, declared Alphons Kannanthanam elected unopposed after no other candidate submitted papers even on the last day of filing.
iii. With Alphons’ election to Rajya Sabha, Rajasthan’s representation in the union council of ministers is back to six, which had come down by one after Venkaiah Naidu took over as Vice-President.
About Rajya Sabha:
♦ Chairman – Venkaiah Naidu
♦ Deputy Chairman – P. J. Kurien
♦ Leader of the House – Arun Jaitley
♦ Leader of the Opposition – Ghulam Nabi Azad
India becoming world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter: Study
A study led by researchers at the University of Maryland in the US suggests that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter.India becoming world’s top Sulhpur dioxide emitter:
i. The study says that, India’s emissions of the air pollutant sulphur dioxide increased by 50 % since 2007, while China’s fell by 75 %.
ii. Sulphur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related problems. It is produced predominantly when coal is burned to generate electricity.
iii. China and India are the world’s top consumers of coal, which typically contains up to 3% sulphur. India opened its largest coal-fired power plant in 2012 and has yet to implement emission controls like China.
iv. In 2000s, China began implementing policies such as fining polluters, setting emission reduction goals and lowering emissions limits.
Harmful effects of sulphur dioxide on humans:
♦ Corneal haze, Breathing difficulty, Airways inflammation, Eye irritation, Psychic alterations, Pulmonary oedema, Heart failure, Circulatory collapse etc.
Indians set 2 world record on para world cup
On 9th November 2017, Indian para shooters Deepender Singh and Manish Narwal set 2 world records in the Shooting Para Sport World Cup 2017, in Bangkok.
Indians – world record in Para Sport World Cup 2017:
i. Indian para shooters Deepender Singh and Manish Narwal won gold and silver respectively in the P1 10m Air Pistol SH1 category in the Shooting Para Sport World Cup 2017.
ii. Deepender Singh with 238.3 points broke the world record set by Iran’s Mahdi Zamanishurabi (235 points). 16-year-old Manish Narwal set a junior world record with 236.6 points.
About Shooting Para Sport World Cup 2017:
♦ Dates – 8-11 November 2017
♦ Location – Bangkok
Padma Shri awardee author Manu Sharma passes away
On 8th November 2017, noted author and Padma Shri awardee Manu Sharma died in Varanasi following prolonged illness.
Death of Manu Sharma:
i. Manu Sharma was 89 years old. He died at his residence in Varanasi on 8th November 2017 following prolonged illness. His last rites were performed at the Manikarnika Ghat with full state honours.
ii. He was also called as Hanuman Prasad Sharma. He was nominated as one of the navratna of the Swachha Bharat Abhiyan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Varanasi in 2014.
iii. Sharma had donated his lifetime savings of Rs 20 lakh for the renovation of a ghat in Varanasi to carry out a cleanliness campaign.
iv. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Yash Bharti Award of the Uttar Pradesh government. He has authored several Hindi books including Krishna Ki Atmakatha.
About Manu Sharma:
♦ Occupation – Author
♦ Language – Hindi
World science day for peace and development – November 10
On 10th November 2017, World science day for peace and development was celebrated all over the world.World Science Day for peace and development:
i. World Science Day for peace and development was coined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2001 and wascelebrated for the first time in 2002.
ii. It highlights the important role that science has in society. It also highlights the need to engage the public in debates on emerging scientific issues.
iii. The theme for World Science Day for peace and development 2017 is ‘Science for Global Understanding’.
iv. The purpose of this day is to renew the national, as well as the international commitment to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society.
♦ Headquarters – Paris, France
♦ Director-General – Audrey Azoulay