04, November 2016

1.GST rates fixed

Source: Indian Express

To keep inflation under check, essential items including food, which presently constitute roughly half of the consumer inflation basket, will be taxed at zero rate.

The GST Council on Tuesday finalised a 4-tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, with lower rates for essential items and the highest for luxury and de-merits goods that would also attract an additional cess.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the biggest reform in India’s indirect tax structure since the economy began to be opened up 25 years ago.

The GST will subsume the multitude of cesses currently in place, including the Swachh Bharat Cess, the Krishi Kalyan Cess and the Education Cess. Only the Clean Environment Cess is being retained, revenues from which will also fund the compensations.

Five Features Of The New Slab:

  1. The lowest rate of 5 per cent would be for common use items while there would be two standard rates of 12 and 18 per cent under the GST regime, targeted to be rolled out from April 1, 2017.
  2. Highest tax slab will be applicable to items which are currently taxed at 30-31 per cent (excise duty plus VAT).
  3. Tobacco will fetch 28 percent sin tax, excluding cess. Aerated drinks will also fetch tax at the same rate. Most white goods to be taxed at 28 percent but with riders.
  4. About 50 percent of products in the consumer basket, such as foodgrains, has been kept as ‘zero-rated’
  5. Rs 50,000 crore would be needed to compensate states for loss of revenue from rollout of GST, which is to subsume a host of central and state taxes like excise duty, service tax and VAT, in the first year.

 

2.India UK Joint Tech Summit

Source: PIB

The India-UK Tech Summit will be jointly inaugurated on 7th November. It will highlight the visions of both the Prime Ministers to create a new era of bilateral economic relationship between the two countries.

The event intends to provide a forum for business, a space for new connections and a showcase for future technologies.

UK and India:

The UK is known for its strength in technology and innovation. India offers vast opportunities through its markets, skilled human resources and competitive economic environment. Britain and India are an unbeatable combination for an enormously successful partnership.

The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and British High Commission, New Delhi are co-organizers of the summit.

 

3.PETROTECH-2016

Source: PIB

PETROTECH-2016 is India’s flagship biennial hydrocarbons event, being organised under the aegis of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

PETROTECH-2016 will not just be an oil & gas sector event but an ‘energy conclave’ that will focus on fruitful outcomes in upstream, midstream and downstream segments as well as in related areas of  petrochemicals, alternative & renewable energy, engineering & technology, energy conservation & efficiency, with emphasis on gainful employment for the youth. 

PETROTECH-2016 an outcome-centric, enriching experience for all participants, the members from the Petroleum Ministry, other Ministries, leading public & private sector enterprises, and academicians to work together to showcase at the event the many mega initiatives launched by the Government of India to make energy available, accessible and affordable to the common man, especially to families below the poverty line.

India’s growing engagement in the energy domain with countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and the USA.

 

4.India to host Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) – Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Source: PIB

It is the first occasion that a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting is being held in India and signals a strong commitment of the Government of India to increase international co-operation and awareness of the WHO FCTC(WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) globally and especially in the WHO South-East Asia Region.

The conference will lead into Delhi Declaration for supporting measures for tobacco control, the Secretary (HFW).

Background:

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first global evidence-based public health treaty that recognises the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The Treaty was developed by countries in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic.

There are currently 180 Parties to the Convention. India has been the forerunner in ratification of this public health treaty and was the 7th Country to ratify the Convention in 2004.

India provided a leadership role in the negotiations of FCTC and was also the Regional Coordinator for the South-East Asia Region.

implementation of the Convention and takes the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation, and may also adopt protocols, annexes and amendments to the Convention.

The Seventh Session of Conference of Parties (COP7) is being hosted by Government of India in partnership with the WHO FCTC Secretariat, which is based at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

As per the decisions taken during the Sixth Session of Conference of Parties (COP6), Government of India has set up a Global Knowledge Hub on Smokeless Tobacco at National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR). This hub serves as a repository of knowledge related to smokeless tobacco.

 

5.Activities undertaken during Swachchhta Pakhwada and web based documents Scheme for Integrated Cold Chain – Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Source: PIB

As a part of the Government’s initiative to observe Swachchhta Pakhwada during 16-31 October, 2016, Ministry of Food Processing Industries also organized various special events during the Pakhwada through active involvement of the officials and other stakeholders of the ministry.

Swachchhta Pakhwada through cleanliness drive, beautification and tree planting activities within the campus and organized activities like Essay Competition, Workshops, Food Safety awareness camp for street vendors, skits etc., for highlighting benefits of swachchhta. Industry bodies like CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce and ASSOCHAM organised several programmes and workshops to create awareness on good hygiene practices.

The Minister also launched web based system for submission of documents for release of grant-in-aid under Scheme for Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure.

 Launching the software, the minister said that this robust e- Governance tool for online filing of claim for release of grant to a project this is an important initiative towards “Digital India” campaign.

 

6.Entire Country gets National Food Security Act coverage

Source: PIB

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have also rolled out the National Food Security Act (NFSA). With this, now the Act has been implemented in all the States and Union Territories.

As a result, now 81.34 crore persons will get wheat at Rs. 2/ kg and rice at Rs. 3/ kg. announced by Union Minister of Consumer Affair, Food & Public Distribution.

Keyfacts:

The Center will focus on further reforms in PDS, which will include end to end computerization of the system for which States/UTs are being technically and financially assisted.

Is important for bringing in transparency in the functioning of the public distribution system (PDS), which is vital feature of NFSA, in order to check leakages and diversion of foodgrains.

 

7.Paris Agreement on Climate Change enters into force but emissions continue to rise

Source: The Hindu

The Paris Agreement to combat climate change officially entered into force after 55 parties to the convention accounting for at least 55% of total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions ratified it.

At present, 94 parties have ratified the convention. India was 62nd country to ratify it on 2 October 2016.

The “emissions gap” for 2030 is 12 to 14 GtCO2e (gigatonne CO2 equivalent) compared with 2°C scenarios, and for 1.5°C the gap is three GtCO2e larger.

Emissions gap is the difference between the emissions levels in 2020 necessary to meet climate targets, and the levels expected that year if countries fulfil their promises to cut greenhouse gases. Target of keeping global warming levels below the 2°C safe limit as agreed in the Paris climate.

The UNEP report further shows that even if fully implemented, the unconditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – the voluntary climate action targets of countries – are only consistent with staying below an increase in temperature of 3.2°C by 2100, which can have disastrous consequences for the climate.

Pre-2020 action- UN climate summit in Morocco (COP 22 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC))

Raising ambition before 2020  is likely the last chance to keep the option of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

This means that in the next three years countries must take sufficient emissions reduction action to aim for the more ambitious target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement.

If don’t start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh. the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver.

Rulebook of Climate Action

With 94 countries of 197 UN member nations having ratified the Paris climate agreement till now, hopes are high that the treaty will be able to lead the way to a carbon neutral world. UNFCCC

The Marrakech climate summit will accelerate work on creating a rulebook, which will measure, account for and review global climate action, and to see emerge a definable pathway for developed countries to materialise the flow of USD $100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action by developing ones.

 

8.First titanium project starts test production

Source: The Hindu

The first titanium project of India being established by Saraf Group in Ganjam district of Odisha started its test production Which is only one in country.

Key Facts

  • After inception, this plant is expected to produce 36,000 tons of titanium slag and 20,000 tons of pig iron per year.
  • The raw material of the plant ILMENITE would be procured from Odisha Sands Complex (OSCOM), a unit of Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) in Ganjam district of Odisha as well as a private company which has its unit in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier in August 2015, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had fully commissioned and started commercial production at the first indigenous Titanium Sponge Plant at Chavara in Kerala.

This plant had commercially started producing Titanium Sponge exclusively for the space programme and strategic areas especially in aerospace and defence areas. With this commissioning India became the seventh country in the world producing Titanium sponge commercially.

 

  1. James webb space telescope:

Source: The Hindu

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest space telescope ever built.
  • It is an international collaboration between of about 17 countries including NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • When it is launched into space it will be able to peer back in time 3.5 billion years, teaching us more than ever before about the start of the universe.
  • The telescope is 100 times more potent than its predecessor, Hubble, and three times larger.
  • The telescope is set to go through a series of tests to make sure it can stand up to the conditions during lift off and the frigid conditions of space, ahead of its launch in 2018.
  • The main component of the telescope is the primary mirror, which consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors and looks like a giant puzzle piece.
  • The telescope will be used to look back to the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets, and even the moons and planets of our solar system


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