01, March 2017

1.CBDT inks 10 more Advance Pricing Agreements
Source: PIB

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into 10 more Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) pertaining to various sectors of economy like Telecom, Banking & Finance, Pharmaceutical, Steel, Retail and IT etc

  • It includes 7 Unilateral APAs, 2 Bilateral APAs with the United Kingdom and Japan. Seven of these Agreements have Rollback provisions in them.
  • With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 140.
  • It includes 130 Unilateral APAs and 10 Bilateral APAs. In current FY 2016-17, 76 APAs (61 Unilateral and 7 Bilateral APAs) were signed.

About Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) scheme

  • The Union Government had introduced the APA Scheme in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced to it in 2014.
  • The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in domain of transfer pricing issues by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • The progress of APA Scheme appreciated nationally and internationally strengthens Government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime in a fair and transparent manner.

Transfer pricing:

  • It is referred to the fixing of the price for goods and services sold in transactions between related legal subsidiaries (entities of a big company) based in different countries within an enterprise.
  • It affects cash flow, investment decisions and performance indicators from a multinational company point of view. It affects the amounts paid as corporate tax to the Government.

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2.MEITY to promote digital transactions in place of NITI Aayog
Source: PIB

The Union Government has shifted the responsibility of promoting digital transactions in the country to the Union Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) from NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.

  • In this regard, Government already has changed the business transaction rules to enable MEITY to promote digital transactions, including digital payments.
  • This decision was taken in view of the core competence of MEITY to promote digital means for various transactions.
  • NITI Aayog which is a think-tank is more focused on monitoring and suggesting ways to improve various government schemes rather than getting involved with implementation.
  • MEITY is responsible for promotion of e-governance schemes for empowering citizens as well as promoting inclusive and also sustainable growth of electronics and IT sector and IT-enabled services industries.
  • Transfer of the business to Ministry will help Government to effectively promote digital transactions to achieve its target of reducing cash to GDP ratio to around 8%, which is at present hovering over 13% in the country.

Earlier, the Central Government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant to push adoption of e-transactions amid the cash crunch faced by citizens due demonetisation. NITI Aayog also implemented two programmes Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana to promote e-payments.

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3.WHO wants new drugs against 12 antibiotics-resistant super-germs

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments, scientists and pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs to tackle 12 antibiotics-resistant super-germs threatening an explosion of incurable diseases.

  • This is for the first time, WHO has published a list of bacteria threatening to turn once easily-treatable infections into incurable diseases. It held that antibiotics may not be ready in time if it is left on market forces alone.
  • WHO described these antibiotics-resistant super-germs as “priority pathogens” as they are greatest threats to human health.
  • They are no longer respond to an ever-growing list of ineffective antibiotics. They were targeted based on the severity of disease they cause how many drugs still work against them, how easily they spread and how many new ones are already being developed.
  • WHO divided these 12 “priority pathogens” into three categories of new medicine priority: critical, high and medium.
  • The high and medium priority categories include drug-resistant bacteria that cause more common diseases such as gonorrhea and salmonella-induced food poisoning which hit poor countries particularly hard.
  • These 12 germs cause ailments including blood, lung, brain, and urinary tract infections, food poisoning from salmonella and gonorrhoea. The most urgent section contained three bacteria families resistant to carbapenem antibiotics which are last-resort treatment for many life-threatening infections.

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4.India signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 63 Million for Tejaswini
Source: PIB

A Financing Agreement for IDA credit of US$ 63 million (equivalent) for the “Tejaswini” Socio-Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women Project” was signed here with the World Bank .

It is World Bank’s first project in India solely focused on the welfare of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged between 14 and 24 to complete their secondary level education and provide relevant skills for job market.

The project will be delivered in 17 Districts of Jharkhand.

The project has three main components,

  • Expanding social, educational and economic opportunities
  • Intensive service delivery
  • State capacity-building and implementation support.

Life skills education includes four core elements:

  • Resilience and soft skills
  • Rights and protections
  • Health and nutrition.
  • Financial literacy.

About 680,000 adolescent girls and young women in the project Districts are expected to benefit from the program.

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5.India’s first integrated heliport
Source: PIB

  • India’s first integrated heliport was inaugurated today at Rohini in North Delhi. This heliport has been developed by Pawan Hans Limited.
  • It will play an important role in providing various helicopter services ranging from offshore transport, connecting remote & inaccessible Islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep besides promoting heli-tourism in India.
  • It is spread over more than 25 acres. It consists of a terminal building having a capacity of 150 passengers along with four hangars with the parking capacity of 16 helicopters and 9 parking bays.
  • It also has a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility for upkeeping of Pawan Hans’ helicopter fleet as well as for third-party maintenance work. It also has its own separate Air Traffic Control.
  • It will also be used for operating services for disaster management, emergency medical services, law and order surveillance as well as a centre for the skill development of pilots and engineers.
  • It will reduce congestion at the Delhi Airport, which currently handles about 40 to 50 helicopter arrivals and departures on an average per day besides the large-scale fixed-wing operations

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6.NDDB’s Cattle Feed Knowledge Portal
Source: PIB

India is the largest milk producer in the world. But there is ample scope to improve per animal productivity.

  • Shri Rupala inaugurated a National Workshop on Improving Feed Production Efficiency & Quality Control Aspects of Cattle Feed Plants organized by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Anand

Knowledge Portal:

  • Shri Parshottam Rupala also launched NDDB’s Cattle Feed Knowledge Portal
  • It is an interactive knowledge platform on various aspects of compound cattle feed production
  • The portal will also have information on least cost formula for feeds, suppliers of feed ingredients, raw material specifications as well as a discussion forum to share information

 Milk Production Model of India :

  • India’s model of milk production is based on feeding crop residues and agricultural by-products and using family labour to add value to resources which otherwise have limited alternative economic value
  • In this context the role of compound cattle feed in animal nutrition to help support the increase in milk production becomes significant
  • Feeding balanced ration can help the milch animals produce milk commensurate with their genetic potential with the attendant benefits of lower cost, increased SNF, higher immunity to disease, improved reproductive efficiency and reduced methane emissions
  • In the absence of adequate quantity of quality green fodder, concentrate feeds provide bulk of essential nutrients in the diet of dairy animals

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7.Even hill stations will be hotter this year, warns IMD
Source: The Hindu

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast “above normal” temperatures across most of the country

Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir are expected to be particularly hot with predicted temperatures, on average, likely to be well above 1 degree C above their normal summer temperatures

The summer forecast is in line with a generally warm trend over previous months.2016 was the warmest year in a century, according to the IMD, with the country 0.91 C warmer than the 1961-1990 average.The summer months of March-May last year were 1.36 C higher than historical average, making it the second-warmest since 1901

El-Nino:

Though still early days, global weather models have given feelers that an El Nino may be taking shape during the middle of the year.Were it to couple with errant conditions in the Indian Ocean, things could look bad for the monsoon

However, IMD doesn’t see a possible El Nino threat to the monsoon system. It is expected to give its first forecast of the June-September monsoon in April

It will also update its summer forecasts every 5 days using the dynamical model, primarily designed to forecast the monsoon, but has since last year been also used to gauge summer temperatures

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8.India, Oman to hold counter-terror exercises
Source: The Hindu

The armies of India and Oman are scheduled to conduct their second bilateral exercise, Al Nagah-II 2017, with a focus on counter-terrorism

The exercise would be held in the Dhauladhar Ranges at Bakloh in Himachal Pradesh from March 6 to 19,Sixty troops from the two sides will participate

  • To build and promote bilateral Army-to-Army relations and enhance interoperability while exchanging skills and experiences between the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman
  • An added aim is to enhance knowledge of each other’s military procedures qualitatively, thus increasing the scope for interoperability and better responsiveness to a common threat
  • India and Oman already have extensive cooperation in the maritime domain.The navies of the two countries have been holding the bilateral maritime exercises called ‘Naseem Al Bahr’ since 1993
  • In addition, the Indian Navy has been cooperating with its UAE and Oman counterparts in training, operational interactions and exchange of “white shipping information” with the help of a joint cooperation committee

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9.Copper axes point to an ancient culture story
Source: The Hindu

Six copper axes and some pieces of pottery discovered in Sakatpur of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. These could point to a separate culture that straddled the Ganga and Yamuna, coinciding with the Indus Valley Civilisation

  • When the Indus Valley civilisation flourished in what is today Punjab, Haryana and parts of Pakistan, a parallel culture is thought to have co-existed in the fertile plains between the Ganga and the Yamuna in western Uttar Pradesh
  • The copper axes and pottery sherds found recently may be related to the Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP) culture in the doab (plains) of the two rivers in the late Harappan period, around 2000 BC

About OCP:

OCP marked the last stage of the North Indian Copper Age. The people who used ochre pottery and their culture are specific to the doab region

The first remnants of OCP culture were found in Hastinapur, in Meerut district, in 1951 and later in Atranjikhera in Eta district

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