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Multi-agency group reconstituted to probe Paradise Papers
Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has reconstituted a multi-agency group to monitor investigations related to the Paradise Papers. This multi-agency group will be headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra and includes representatives of the Enforcement Directorate.
i. CBDT has stated that India’s tax authorities were already investigating some of the offshore accounts revealed in the Paradise Papers.
ii. Income Tax Department officials have been alerted to use the information from Paradise Papers to expedite inquiries. Income tax returns filed by individuals and entities featuring in Paradise Papers will be matched with the exposed data to check for discrepancies…………………………………Click here to Read more
Haryana signs MoU with Art of Living’s institute for yoga
Haryana State Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vyakti Vikas Kendra, a training institute of the Art of Living Foundation for helping jail inmates to maintain and improve their health and reduce physical and mental stress.More Information about MoU between Haryana State Government and Vyakti Vikas Kendra:
i. This MoU was signed in the presence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
ii. As per the terms and conditions of this MoU, Vyakti Vikas Kendra will regularly conduct yoga, meditation and other programmes for the welfare of prisoners in all the prisons of Haryana.
iii. No fees will be charges for this programme.
iv. VVKI and has been conducting ‘PRISON SMART’ (Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training) courses for prisoners successfully all over the world.
Bombay HC allows woman with abnormal foetus to terminate pregnancy at 25 weeks
On November 6, 2017, Bombay High Court allowed a 28-year-old woman to abort her 25-week foetus with neuro abnormalities.
i. This order by Bombay High Court’s bench of Justices Shantanu Kemkar and Girish Kulkarni was based on a report by government-run JJ hospital which suggested that it is advisable to terminate pregnancy.
ii. The JJ hospital panel examined the pregnant woman and foetus and found that there were multiple neuro and skeletal abnormalities.
iii. The woman had approached Bombay High Court on the grounds that the restriction in law (Medical Termination of Pregnancy is only permissible till 20 weeks of gestation) was causing her mental and physical trauma to know that she would give birth to a baby whose chances of survival were negligible.
iv. In August 2017, Central Government had directed states pursuant to a Supreme Court order, to constitute permanent medical expert boards to study requests for Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) after the statutorily permissible 20 weeks of gestation.
Prakash Javadekar inaugurates ‘Chintan Shivir’ in New Delhi
On November 6, 2017, Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar inaugurated a two-day National Workshop ‘Chintan Shivir’ in New Delhi.More information about ‘Chintan Shivir’:
i. This workshop has been organized by Department of School Education and Literacy, under Union HRD Ministry.
ii. The objective of this workshop is to provide holistic education relevant for 21st century India and to bring together NGOs, private sector and individuals to deliberate on key themes in the education sector.
iii. The workshop focused on five themes – Digital education, Experimental learning, Life Skill education, Value education and Physical Education.
iv. In his speech at the workshop, Mr. Javadekar stated that ‘Operation Digital Board’ will be fully functional in all the schools of India in the coming years.
v. During the course of this workshop, Mr. Javadekar also launched a Compendium on ‘Innovations and Best Practices in School Education’ and a State-NGO-CSR Portal – ‘Shaala Sarathi’.
Panel under M Vinod Kumar begins review of GST laws to remove glitches
A committee headed by M Vinod Kumar, GST chief commissioner for Karnataka has started a review of the laws governing Goods and Services Tax (GST).
i. The committee has been set up to provide suggestions for smoothening the GST regime, especially for small businesses who have been complaining of a an increase in compliance burden.
ii. Another committee comprising industry representatives has also been set up to provide external inputs on this matter.
iii. Besides, group of state finance ministers (GoM) has also suggested some changes to the existing structure.
iv. Next meeting of GST council is scheduled to be held on November 10, 2017 in Guwahati, Assam. At this meeting, decision will be taken on proposals from a ministerial panel for tax rate cuts on restaurants and for further liberalization of the composition scheme meant for small businesses.
Maharashtra govt to set up village climate resilient committees
The Maharashtra state government has decided to set up a committee for the implementation of a Rs.4,000-crore project on climate resilience agriculture in 5,000 villages of 15 districts in the state. The project would be funded by the World Bank.
i. With 82 per cent of the states cultivable area falling under dry farming coupled with consecutive drought, the state government has now decided to push for this project.
ii. The seven-member panel, headed by the Principal Secretary (Agriculture), has been set up with a target of selecting 4,000 drought-prone villages for the implementation of the project.
iii. The committee would select 3,000 villages from eight districts of Marathwada region, while the remaining 1,000 will be chosen from six districts of Vidarbha.
iv. Besides,932 villages facing the challenge of salinity of water are also included in the project.
v. The panel has been asked to select indicators related toweather, agriculture and social status of the villages of these two districts based on which they would be ranked.
vi. The programme aims to reduce farmers’ dependence on unpredictable weather cycles and enhance resilience of agriculture to climate change and vulnerability through research and use of technology.
♦ Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Governor – C Vidhyasagar Rao
♦ High Court – Bombay HC
Kerala government launched ‘She Pad’ scheme for school girls in Kerala
On 8th November 2017, the Kerala government launched a new scheme for school students named ‘She Pad’ in Kerala.‘She Pad’ scheme:
i. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that, the ‘She Pad’ scheme will benefit the girls of classes 6 to 12 in Kerala and will be implemented in 300 schools in 114 panchayats this year.
ii. Free sanitary napkins, storage spaces and environment friendly incinerators at all government-aided schools in Kerala will be provided as part of the project.
iii. Women’s Development Corporation in collaboration with the local governments will be implementing it, this year in 300 schools. This will be expanded to all schools in Kerala in the coming years.
♦ Capital – Thiruvananthapuram
♦ Governor – P. Sathasivam
♦ Chief Minister – Pinarayi Vijayan
India slips to 7th position in business optimism ranking
As per Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), India has slipped to 7th position in ‘business optimism’ index for the September 2017 quarter. This marks a drop by five places as compared to 2nd position in the previous three months……………………………….Click here to Read more
‘Business Optimism’ Rankings – Top 5 Countries:
EU launches Election Observation Mission for Nepal polls
On 7th November 2017, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) was launched to monitor the general and provincial polls in Nepal which are scheduled for 26 November and 7 December, 2017.European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM):
i. Around 100 election observers from member countries of the European Union (EU) have been deployed to oversee the polls in Nepal. The EU has allocated 3.5 million euro for the entire election observation process.
ii. A 38 member long-term election observers were deployed across Nepal to observe the electoral preparations. A core team of 10 election analysts will be based in Kathmandu.
iii .The mission will be informed by 20 short-term observers, who will observe the election-day proceedings. Another 24 short-term observers will arrive to observe the second election-day on 7 December 2017.
♦ Capital – Kathmandu
♦ Currency – Nepalese rupee
♦ Official language – Nepali
BANKING & FINANCE
India inks $119 mn loan pact with WB for Odisha’s education scheme
On November 7, 2017, India singed a loan agreement with World Bank for USD 119 million for the Odisha Higher Education Programme for Excellence and Equity (OHEPEE) Project.
More information about OHEPEE:
i. OHEPEE seeks to provide equitable access to students to selected institutions in Odisha and enhance governance of the higher education system in the state.
ii. This project will continue till November 2022.
iii. The financing agreement for USD 119 million has been signed with International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), a member institution of World Bank Group.
Quick Facts about Odisha:
♦ Capital – Bhubaneswar
♦ Current Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik
♦ Current Governor – S C Jamir
Bank of China begins operations in Pak, opens first branch in Karachi
On November 7, 2017, Bank of China formally launched its operations in Pakistan by opening its first branch in Karachi.i. The opening ceremony took place in presence of Bank of China Chairman Chen Siqing, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa and Chinas Acting Ambassador to Pakistan Zhao Lijian.
ii. With the opening of this branch of Bank of China, it is expected that the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would soon start reaching the masses.
iii. Karachi branch of Bank of China is the first in South Asia.
Quick Facts about Bank of China:
♦ Founded in – 1912
♦ Headquarters – Beijing, China
♦ Current Chairman – Chen Siqing
Syndicate Bank forms human chain to fight Corruption
On November 7, 2017, Syndicate Bank formed a human chain to create awareness among the public to fight corruption.
i. This human chain was formed by Syndicate Bank in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
ii. Syndicate Bank’s key people including Managing Director and CEO Melywyn Rego, Executive Directors, SS Mallikarjuna Rao and S Krishnan also took part in this activity along with bank’s General Managers, Regional Managers and staff.
Quick Facts about Syndicate Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1925
♦ Headquarters – Manipal, Karnataka
♦ Current Chairman – Ajay Vipin Nanavati
Insolvency resolution norms made stringent
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has amended IBBI (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Resolution Process, 2016 to ensure that the corporate insolvency resolution process results in a credible and viable resolution plan.
i. As per the norm stipulated in this amendment, the antecedents, credit worthiness and credibility of a resolution applicant, including promoters will be checked by the Committee of Creditors before approving the resolution plan.
ii. Besides, details pertaining to convictions, criminal proceedings, disqualifications, categorisation as wilful defaulter as per RBI guidelines, debarment imposed by SEBI and any transaction with the corporate debtor in the last two years should also be furnished.
iii. The amendment also assigns greater responsibility on the resolution professional and the Committee of Creditors.
iv. The resolution professional will now have to submit details about undervalued transactions and fraudulent transactions.
ICEX completes first diamond futures contract of Rs 173.32 crore
On 8th November 2017, Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX) said that, it has successfully completed first-ever diamond futures contracts settlement with the total traded quantity in November expiry for 5,382.08 carats valued at Rs 173.32 crore.
First diamond futures contract:
i. ICEX had commenced operations on 28th August 2017 with the launch of three monthly diamond futures contracts – of November 2017, December 2017 and January 2018 expiry.
ii. The total traded quantity in November expiry since the launch of the contracts is 5,382.08 carats, valuing at Rs 173.32 crore. Percentage of delivery against the total traded quantity is 0.53 %.
iii. Both buyers and sellers completed their obligation towards settlement within the time frame as per the exchange process. All the open interests during the period have resulted in delivery.
About Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX):
♦ World’s first diamond derivatives exchange
♦ MD & CEO – Sanjit Prasad
Govt notifies tax avoidance protocol between India-New Zealand
Indian government has notified the third protocol with New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.More Information about tax avoidance protocol between India-New Zealand:
i. This protocol updates the existing protocol by incorporating new provisions about sharing of tax-related information as per the latest international standard.
ii. It entered into force in India on September 7, 2017, and has been notified in the official gazette on November 2, 2017.
iii. This protocol will not only help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between India and New Zealand but will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
iv. Tax avoidance convention between India and New Zealand came into force in December 1986. It was amended by a first protocol in 1997 and the second protocol in 2000.
Quick Facts about New Zealand:
♦ Capital – Wellington
♦ Currency – New Zealand dollar
♦ Current Prime Minister – Jacinda Ardern
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Novel on Hitler’s rise wins France’s top book award
On 6th November 2017, Eric Vuillard’s novel L’ordre du jour (in English ‘Agenda’), story of how German industry and finance backed Adolf Hitler, won the top Goncourt Prize 2017 award, at the restaurant Drouant in Paris.
L’ordre du jour wins the Goncourt Prize 2017:
i. L’ordre du jour has been among the favourites for the Goncourt prize. The Goncourt Prize is the most prestigious award in the French-speaking world. L’ordre du jour is a 160-page book.
ii. It depicts how the financial support of German industrialists was crucial to Hitler’s rise. The author Eric Vuillard is 49 years old.
iii. Eric Vuillard gets only 10 euros ($11) in prize money, but the Goncourt almost guarantees a boost in sales of 4,50,000 copies or more, placing it instantly among the year’s top best-sellers.
About Goncourt Prize:
♦ Awarded for – the best and most imaginative prose work of the year
♦ Presented by – Academie Goncourt
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Sanjeev Kaushik appointed as whole-time member of SEBI
Sanjeev Kaushik, a Kerala cadre IAS officer, has been appointed as whole-time member of SEBI.Sanjeev Kaushik – whole time member of SEBI:
i. Sanjeev Kaushik has been appointed as whole time member of SEBI for a period of three years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
ii. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved Kaushik’s appointment. Kaushik replaces S Raman, who retired from the post of a whole-time member in September 2017.
iii. Kaushik has an MBA in finance from London Business School and over two decades of experience in the financial sector. Prior to this appointment, he was Chairman and Managing Director of India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL).
About SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India):
♦ Chairman – Ajay Tyagi
♦ Whole Time Members – G Mahalingam, Madhabi Puri Buch, Sanjeev Kaushik
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Twitter officially doubles character limit to 280
On 08th Nov 2017, the social media giant, Twitter announced that it is extending the 140 character limit to 280 characters in all languages where cramming was an issue.
i. For India and the Indian diaspora, this update will apply to thesix regional languages and those languages are Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Bengali.
ii. Last month Twitter had launched a test version, that expanded the 140 character limit to 280 characters which enabled every person around the world to express themselves easily in a tweet.
iii. Twitter saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often.
iv. During the first few days of the test, many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after, the behavior normalized.
Scientists discover universe’s most ancient spiral galaxy
Astronomers have discovered the most ancient spiral galaxy in the universe which they believe existed 11 billion years ago, named A1689B11.Universe’s most ancient spiral galaxy – A1689B11:
i. According to the scientists, the galaxy known as A1689B11, existed just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only one-fifth of its present age.
ii .Researchers were from Australian National University (ANU) and Swinburne University of Technology. The study has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
iii. They used a technique that combines gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) on the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to verify the vintage and spiral nature of the galaxy.
iv. This galaxy is forming stars 20 times faster than galaxies today. It has a very cool and thin disc, rotating calmly with little turbulence.
Some important galaxies:
♦ Milky Way, Andromeda, Black Eye Galaxy and Whirlpool Galaxy
Maneka Gandhi launches ‘first of its kind’ portal for sexual harassment complaints
On 7th November 2017, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi launched an online portal for registering complaint related to sexual harassment in non-government and government organisations named ‘SHe-box’.
i. The comprehensive online complaint system ‘SHe-box’ (sexual harassment electronic box) will be hosted on the website of the Ministry Of Women and Child Development.
ii. Maneka Gandhi said that, the SHe-box is the first of its kind in the world. Any complaint by any women who have faced sexual harassment at workplace anywhere in India will be responded and action will be taken.
iii. A unit in the Women and Child Development Ministry will look into every complaint filed online.
About Ministry of Women and Child Development:
♦ Purpose – formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to women and child development in India
Tyrannomyrmex alii: New ant species discovered in the Western Ghats
Researchers have discovered a new species of ant named ‘Tyrannomyrmex alii’ in the Western Ghats.
Tyrannomyrmex alii: New ant species:
i. The new species of ant was found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The research has been published in the journal Zootaxa.
ii. The research was undertaken by Kalesh Sadasivan and Manoj Kripakaran, members of Travancore Natural History Society’s Ant Research Group.
iii. This is a rare tropical genus of ant. The species was discovered by the team from the Vallakadavu range in 2016.
iv. The authors of the study have named the new species ‘Tyrannomyrmex alii’ paying tribute to their mentor and eminent myrmecologist (one who studies ants) Musthak Ali, who is regarded as India’s ‘ant man’.
About Tyrannomyrmex alii:
♦ Rare myrmicine (subfamily of ants) ant genus
♦ Distributed in the Indomalayan bio-region that extends from southern India and Sri Lanka to southeast Asia
Mitchell Starc makes history with two hat-tricks in one game
On 7th November 2017, Strike bowler Mitchell Starc took two hat-tricks in the same first-class game in Australia.Mitchell Starc – two hat-tricks in one game:
i. Mitchell Starc became only the eighth player in first-class cricket history and the first in 39 years to achieve the feat as he headed New South Wales (NSW) to victory over Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield.
ii. He removed Jason Behrendorff, David Moody and Simon Mackin in first innings to complete his first career hat-trick. He then got both Behrendorff and Moody again off the final two deliveries of his 15th over.
iii .Jono Wells then edged Starc on the first ball of his next over to Australia and NSW captain Steve Smith at first slip to end the match.
About Mitchell Starc:
♦ Role – Bowler
♦ Batting – Left-handed
♦ Bowling – Left-arm fast
Mary Kom beats a North Korean, storms to Asian Boxing Championships gold
On 8th November 2017, Mary Kom won the gold medal in the Asian Boxing Championships in the Light Flyweight category, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Mary Kom wins gold in Asian Boxing Championships:
i. Mary Kom defeated North Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi in the final 5-0 by unanimous judges’ decision and won the gold medal in the Asian Boxing Championships in the Light Flyweight category (48 kg category).
ii. Mary Kom’s previous medal came in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, where she became the first Indian woman boxer to win gold in the Women’s Flyweight (51 kg) category.
iii. This is Mary Kom’s sixth medal in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championships and fifth gold medal. She has won four gold medals and one silver medal in previous editions of the tournament.
About Asian Boxing Championships 2017:
♦ Date – 2-8 November 2017
♦ Venue – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
World Radiology Day – November 8
On 8th November 2017, World Radiology Day was observed all over the world.World Radiology Day:
i. The International Day of Radiology is an annual event promoting the role of medical imaging in modern healthcare. It is celebrated on November 8 each year.
ii. It coincides with the anniversary of the discovery of x-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. Theme of World Radiology Day 2017 is Emergency Radiology.
iii. It was first introduced in 2012, as a joint initiative, by the European Society of Radiology (ESR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR).
iv. The International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists have celebrated 8 November as World Radiography Day since 2007, along with other national radiographers associations.
♦ Science that uses medical imaging to diagnose and sometimes also treat diseases within the body