Home Daily Updates IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 20- OCTOBER - 2016
IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 20- OCTOBER - 2016
Friday, 21 October 2016 06:30

 

 

 


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DAILY NEWS UPDATES

20- OCTOBER - 2016

 

:: NATIONAL ::

THE CENTRE HAS PROPOSED A FOUR-SLAB RATE STRUCTURE FOR THE GOODS & SERVICES TAX

  • The Centre has proposed a four-slab rate structure for the Goods & Services Tax, ranging from zero to 26 per cent, at a meeting of the GST Council.
  • The structure proposes the GST at 0 per cent on a host of goods and services, including food, health and education services, and at 26 per cent on luxury items, such as fast-moving consumer goods and consumer durables.
  • On consumption of ultra-luxury items and demerit goods, such as big cars and tobacco products, it proposes imposition of cess over and above a 26 per cent GST rate.
  • The GST is proposed to be levied at 6 per cent, 12 per cent or 18 per cent on the remaining goods and services.
  • The rate proposed on all items is by and large lower than the current rate. In the 26 per cent slab, for instance, currently most goods are being taxed at about 27 to 31 per cent.
  • The proposal retains only the Clean Environment Cess from the multitude currently in place, with the GST subsuming all the others, including the Swachh Bharat Cess, the KrishiKalayan Cess and the Education Cess.

INDIA GETS SUPPORT FROM US FOR CROSS-LOC STRIKES

  • The U.S. supports cross-LoC strikes by India, U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma said, adding that Washington has drastically cut assistance to Pakistan in the past five years over concerns on terror.
  • India launched strikes on ‘terror launch pads’ along the LoC after the terror attack on an Army camp in Uri, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.
  • In a rare admission that the U.S. had spoken to the Pakistani leadership about the use of “proxies” as terror groups, Mr. Verma also said it was important to “stand in solidarity with India on that front.”
  • Ambassador revealed that since 2011, U.S. military aid to Pakistan had dwindled 73 per cent over differences with the Pakistan government’s action on terror, indicating the recent hold on F-16 sales as well as $300 million withheld by the Pentagon.
  • Mr. Verma wouldn’t commit to a timeline on when India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group would come through, nor did he respond on whether President Obama would engage the Chinese leadership directly.

DELHI AIR QUALITY IS AT VERY POOR LEVEL

  • The Capital’s air quality on Tuesday took a turn for the worse with monitoring stations across the city recording it in the ‘very poor’ category.
  • The average (24-hour rolling) of PM2.5 and PM10, suspended respirable pollutants, were recorded as 120.8 and 248 micrograms per cubic metre by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) around 5.30 p.m., as against the corresponding safe limits of 60 and 100.
  • SAFAR’s Dhirpur, Pitampura, Delhi University, Pusa Road, Mathura Road and airport stations had ‘very poor’ air quality index. Even last week, the air quality fluctuated between moderate and poor categories.

PM SAYS INDIAN ARMY IS AMONG BEST IN THE WORLD

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi saluted the Army for its recent surgical strikes along the Line of Control in Kashmir and said the action had won it worldwide accolades.
  • Mr. Modi likened the surgical strikes to Israel’s exploits and said the Indian forces had shown they were no less than anybody.
  • Israel is known for its targeted military strikes against enemy countries and militant outfits.
  • Criticising the previous governments at the Centre for not implementing the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen, Mr. Modi pointed out how the National Democratic Alliance government had kept its promise on OROP.
  • “Appreciating our commitment and on our request, the ex-servicemen have agreed for us to pay the amount in four simple instalments. We have already released Rs. 5,500 crore to them,” the Prime Minister said.
  • He recalled that before becoming the Gujarat Chief Minister he was the party in charge of Himachal for a long time and was instrumental in installing the first Dhumal government in 1998.
  • The Prime Minister said BJP Chief Ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal had done a lot for Himachal and credited them for their role in providing drinking water and initiating the road networking in the State.
  • The current Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, he alleged, had his hands full in tackling the corruption cases against him.
  • The Prime Minister said Himachal was given Rs. 72,000 crore by the 15th Finance Commission against the paltry Rs. 21,000 crore by the UPA in the 14th Finance Commission.

PEOPLE'S RESURGENCE AND JUSTICE ALLIANCE LAUNCHED BY IROM SHARMILA

  • Beginning her political journey, rights activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday announced a new political party.
  • The party, named the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), will contest the Assembly polls in Manipur in 2017.
  • She will be the co-convenor of the party, which includes a number of activists and entrepreneurs.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Sharmila said that that everyone is seeking a change in Manipur, but for a positive change to emerge, each person needed to be a part of the process of change.
  • The 44-year-old Sharmila, who broke her 16-year-long fast for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) on August 9 earlier this year, had previously announced her decision to test political waters.

:: INTERNATIONAL ::

RUSSIAN AND SYRIAN AIR FORCES HAVE STOPPED BOMBING ALEPPO

  • Moscow announced that Russian and Syrian air forces have stopped bombing Aleppo ahead of a brief truce, a move the Kremlin said showed “goodwill” as it faces mounting criticism for backing a brutal regime offensive.
  • Russia said there would be an eight-hour “humanitarian pause” in the battered city, a move welcomed by the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) which nevertheless said the ceasefire needed to be longer to allow the delivery of aid.
  • The UN said it was waiting for safety assurances from all sides before going in with “critical humanitarian assistance” for Aleppo’s desperate population.
  • The West has voiced increasing alarm at the situation in Aleppo, saying the ferocious Russian-backed onslaught on the rebel-held east could amount to a war crime.

:: INDIA AND WORLD ::

INDIA OFFERED TO HELP IN RECONCILIATION OF MYANMAR

  • India has offered to help in Myanmar’s national reconciliation effort, officials said here, shortly after State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi began her first state visit to India, with a meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • During the meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the issue of reconciliation came up again.
  • The Myanmarese leader received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Ms. Swaraj conveyed condolences on India’s behalf for the terror attack of October 9 which led to a week of violence that claimed dozens of lives in Rakhine province of Myanmar.
  • On October 16, Ms. Suu Kyi had expressed solidarity in the Goa BRICS-BIMSTEC for India’s fight against terrorism.
  • India’s proposal for “assistance” came a day after the Ministry of External Affairs announced that New Delhi is willing to play a more active role in stabilising and unifying the Bay of Bengal community, including Myanmar.

:: BUSINESS AND ECONOMY ::

RBI HAS ASKED BANKS TO REPLACE DEBIT CARDS FOR SECURITY REASONS

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to replace debit cards whose security is suspected to have been compromised after being used in some automated teller machines (ATMs).
  • The issue was first suspected by payment gateways such as Visa, Mastercard and Rupay, the last of which is operated by NPCI, when it came to their notice that security could have been breached in some instances.
  • Debit cards and credit cards face security issues when unauthorised parties access confidential details embedded in the card. Such access could happen even as the card is being used in an ATM.
  • Cards falling in the suspicious category and needing replacement would number about 17.5 lakh. The total debit card base in the country was 697 million as of July 2016.
  • Banks such as State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda have already started replacing the cards. SBI, the country’s largest lender, has started the process of replacing 0.6 million debit cards.
  • Mr. Mahapatra added that while the bank had advised customers to change the debit card pin, the institution had also blocked the cards, and is now issuing fresh cards. He said the process would be competed in two to three days.
  • SBI is investigating the issue to ascertain whether there was any financial loss to the customers.

UNION BROUGHT A LOGO FOR THE IPR POLICY

  • To promote the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, the Centre brought out a logo for the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) — the body set up to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy.
  • Launching the logo, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India’s intellectual property-related activities needed great traction. The logo has been designed keeping in mind the slogan of the National IPR Policy: ‘Creative India, Innovative India’, said a statement.
  • The CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors a platform to commercialise their IP assets.

:: IMPORTANT DETAILED NEWS ::

LUO ZHAOHUI APPOINTED AS CHINA'S AMBASSADOR TO INDIA

Luo Zhaohui was appointed as China's Ambassador to India, in accordance with a decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature of China.

His appointment was approved by Chinese President Xi Jinping. He succeeds former Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng, who left the position in April 2016.

About Luo Zhaohui

• Luo was China's ambassador to Canada from 2014 to 2016.

• Before that, Luo served as director general of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2014.

• He had a four year stint as Ambassador to Pakistan starting from 2006.

• He is familiar with India as he worked as Second Secretary in Chinese Embassy in India from 1989 to 1993.

OLIVER HART, BENGT HOLMSTROM WIN 2016 SVERIGES RIKSBANK PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES

Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom were awarded the 2016 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for their contributions to contract theory.

They have developed a contract theory, a comprehensive framework for analysing many diverse issues in contractual design, like performance-based pay for top executives, deductibles and co-pays in insurance and the privatisation of public-sector activities.

The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design.

Bengt Holmstrom's Theory

• In the late 1970s, Bengt Holmstrom demonstrated how a principal should design an optimal contract for an agent, whose action is partly unobserved by the principal.

• Holmström’s informativeness principle stated precisely how this contract should link the agent’s pay to performance-relevant information.

• Using the basic principal-agent model, he showed how the optimal contract carefully weighs risks against incentives.

• Later, Holmstrom generalised these results to more realistic settings, namely: when employees are not only rewarded with pay, but also with potential promotion and when individual members of a team can free-ride on the efforts of others.

Oliver Hart's Theory

• In the mid-1980s, Oliver Hart made fundamental contributions to a new branch of contract theory that deals with the important case of incomplete contracts.

• Hart’s findings have shed new light on the ownership and control of businesses and have had a vast impact on several fields of economics, as well as political science and law.

• His research provides new theoretical tools for studying questions such as which kinds of companies should merge, the proper mix of debt and equity financing, and when institutions such as schools or prisons ought to be privately or publicly owned.

Oliver Hart is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. While, Bengt Holmstrom is a Professor of Economics and Professor of Economics and Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.

HIMANSH, INDIA’S REMOTE AND HIGH-ALTITUDE STATION OPENED IN SPITI, HIMACHAL PRADESH

The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH. The station is situated above 13500 feet at a remote region in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

The station was unveiled by M. Rajeevan, Secretary to the Ministry of Earth Sciences,.

The ongoing initiatives by NCAOR will contribute to the integrated study the glaciers in the upper Indus basin (Chandra basin) in Himachal Pradesh and their contribution to discharge.

Key highlights of HIMANSH

The station houses many instruments to quantify the glacier melting and its relation to changing climate.

Some of the instruments that are available at the research facility include, Automatic Weather Stations for weather monitoring, water level recorder for quantifying the glacier melt, ground penetrating radar to know the thickness of glaciers, geodetic GPS systems to study the glacier movements, etc.

The researchers will use the station as a base for undertaking surveys using Terrestrial Laser Scanners (TLS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

About National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research

The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research is an Indian research and development institution, situated in Vasco, Goa.

It was established on 25 May 1998, with Dr. P C Pandey as its founding director.

It is an autonomous Institution of the Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Government of India.

It is responsible for administering the Indian Antarctic Program and maintains the Indian Government's Antarctic research station, Maitri.

At present, NCAOR is an agency working under Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India since 2006, by the notification of the President of India.

NCAOR complex is a home to a special low-temperature laboratory and is setting up a National Antarctic Data Centre and a Polar Museum.

GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX 2016 RELEASED: INDIA RANKED AT 97TH POSITION

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI).

It says if hunger declines at the same rate as it has since 1992, more than 45 countries including India, Pakistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Afghanistan will still have moderate to alarming hunger scores in 2030.

Highlights of the  Global Hunger Index

• The Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest levels of hunger in the report.

• Seven countries had alarming levels of hunger, while 43 countries including high-population countries like India, Nigeria and Indonesia had serious hunger levels.

• The level of hunger in developing countries has fallen by 29 percent since 2000.

• Twenty countries including Rwanda, Cambodia, and Myanmar have all reduced their GHI scores by over 50 percent each since 2000. And no developing countries were in the extremely alarming category.

• Although the Latin America region has the lowest regional GHI score in the developing world, but Haiti has the fourth highest GHI score at an alarming 36.9. Mexico has a low level of overall hunger.

• Armed conflict is a leading cause of hunger and undernutrition in many of these countries like Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

• The GHI score for the developing world as a whole is 21.3, which is in the low end of the serious category.

• Regionally, Africa South of the Sahara has the highest hunger level, followed closely by South Asia.

• This year’s report hails a new paradigm of international development proposed in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which envisages Zero Hunger by 2030.

India's position in Global Hunger Index 2016

• India is ranked at 97th and Pakistan at 107th. All other Asian neighbours did relatively better- China (29), Nepal (72), Myanmar (75), Sri Lanka (84) and Bangladesh (90).

• India’s GHI score of 28.5 is worse than the developing country average score of 21.3.

• Although India runs two of the world's biggest children's nutrition programmes, the ICDS for children under 6 years and the mid-day meal programme for school going kids up to the age of 14, still malnutrition continues to haunt India.

About Global Hunger Index

• GHI is a multidimensional statistical tool used to describe the state of countries' hunger situation.

• The GHI, now in its 11th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators: undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

• The 2016 report ranked 118 countries in the developing world, almost half of which have serious or alarming hunger levels.

RENU PALL APPOINTED AS AMBASSADOR OF INDIA TO AUSTRIA

Former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer Renu Pall was appointed as the Ambassador of India to Austria. Her appointment was announced by the Union Ministry of External Affairs.

She will succeed Rajiva Misra in Austria. Currently, Pall is serving as the Ambassador of India to the Czech Republic.

Austria is a German-speaking country in Central Europe, characterized by mountain villages and baroque architecture.

About Renu Pall

• She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1988.

• Since May 2011, she has been Joint Secretary (ASEAN Multilateral) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

• She was previously the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of India at Berlin.

• Her other overseas assignments included Embassies of India at Washington DC, Paris, and Moscow.

• She has been Director (US & Canada), Director (Foreign Secretary’s Office) and Under Secretary & Deputy Secretary (US & Canada) in MEA.

• She was part of the Indian Civil Accounts Service from 1985-1988.

 

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