16, September 2016

Ministry of Tourism Approves Projects of Rs. 500 Crore for Jammu & Kashmir

Source: PIB

The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) chaired by Union Tourism Secretary for the ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’ has approved projects worth Rs. 500 Crore as part of Development Package of Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) for integrated development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The projects envisage tourist infrastructural development in Jammu and Kashmir.

India inks MoU with Sri Lanka to support fishermen, farmers

Source: Business Standard

India signed a MoU with Sri Lanka to support livelihood of the fishing and farming communities by providing them equipment worth USD 2 million in the country’s southern Hambantota district.

Who will benefit?

The project envisages gift of equipment and tools such as grub hoes, bicycles, life jackets and sewing machines worth 300 million rupees (USD two million) to the fishing and farming communities in Hambantota district.

More than 75,000 people in the district will get direct benefit from the project.

Who will implement the project?

The project will be implemented on consultation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development and relevant authorities.

Dinesh Bharadia wins Marconi Society honor

Source: Business Line

Dinesh Bharadia has been honored with the 2016 Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Award, for his work that makes full duplex radios a reality.

Bharadia’s research disproved a long-held assumption that it is generally not possible for a radio to receive and transmit on the same frequency band because of the interference that results.

Doubling spectrum

That’s a good analogy for why radios have needed to use two frequencies to transmit and receive simultaneously. It’s also why ‘full duplex radios’ effectively double the amount of available spectrum.”

According to Bharadia, the problem is more difficult than it sounds.

First, the interference is extremely strong—nearly a hundred billion times stronger than the signal that the radio might be trying to receive — and the resulting interference depends on the environment, changing in real-time as people move around. Plus, typical radios (e.g., Wi-Fi) span many frequencies and use multi-antenna systems.

He turned full-duplex radios into a commercial reality by inventing new formulas that can be applied to known transmitted signals and cancel the self-interference.

About Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Award:

  • The award is named after Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi who had invented radio.
  • It was instituted by his daughter Gioia Marconi Braga through an endowment in 1974.
  • The award is equivalent of the Nobel Prize in science and technology domain.
  • The award is bestowed annually outstanding individuals whose scope of work and influence emulate the principle of ‘creativity in service to humanity’ that inspired Marconi.

New director appointed for RCI (Research Centre Imarat)

Source: Times of India

Scientist BHVS Narayana Murthy has been appointed director of Research Centre Imarat (RCI), DRDO, Hyderabad.

About Research Centre Imarat (RCI):

  • RCI is premiere laboratory of DRDO responsible for Research and Development of Missile Systems, advanced Avionics and guided weapons for Indian Armed Forces.
  • It was established by APJ Abdul Kalam in 1988. It is located in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • Since its inception, the laboratory has made pioneering contributions towards successful flight testing of India’s maiden Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni V (Range‎: ‎Over 5,000 kms).
  • RCI also has spearheaded India-Israel joint development Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) programme.

India, AfDB ink MoU for hosting bank’s annual meetings at Ahmedabad

Source: Business Standard

India will host the next annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group at Ahmedabad.

A MoU was signed between the Government of India and the AfDB regarding the holding of the annual meetings.

About AfDB:

  • The African Development Bank (AfDB) was established in 1963 with a view to promote the Economic Development and social progress of its regional members.
  • India became member of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1983.
  • The Union Finance Minister and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance are the Governor and Alternate Governor of the Bank respectively.

CBDT issues clarifications on Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme 2016

Source: Business Standard

In order to reduce the pending litigation, the Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 (the Scheme) has come into force can be availed upto 31st December, 2016.

The scheme is available to the cases pending with the first appellate authority [i.e. CIT (A)] as on 29th February, 2016, subject to certain conditions.

It also extends to the cases pending litigation owing to retrospective amendment at different levels.

Under the Scheme, if the amount of disputed tax is

  • Up to Rs.10 lakh, complete waiver from levy of penalty and from initiation of prosecution is provided on payment of assessed tax along with the interest.
  • More than Rs.10 lakh, the declarant is required to pay only 25% of the minimum penalty leviable along with the due tax and interest.

Penalty:

  • In respect of penalty appeals, the declarant shall get waiver of the 75% of the penalty levied and immunity from prosecution.
  • In respect of specified tax, the declarant gets complete waiver of/immunity from levy of penalty and immunity from prosecution.

Gold key to lower GST rate:

Source: The Hindu

The Centre is set to propose that the rate of tax on gold consumption be doubled under the Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime so as to allow the GST council the elbow room to set a lower standard GST rate.

Why this move?

  • The government’s main reason will be that the increase in revenue from gold consumption will provide the necessary cushion for the standard GST rate to be fixed at a level lower than 20 per cent.
  • Few States had expressed concerns that a high rate of GST on gold was not “politically feasible”.
  • A system in which the rate on gold was kept low and the standard GST rate was high, would result in poor people ending up subsidizing the gold consumption of the rich.

Background:

The proposal is based on last year’s recommendation from a government committee headed by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian. The panel had suggested taxing gold and other precious metals at rates ranging between 2 per cent and 6 per cent. This, the panel had argued, would protect the revenues of the States even if the standard rate of GST was pegged below 20 per cent.

Delink drug prices from R&D costs: UN

Source: The Hindu

As the debate over unaffordable drugs such as Sovaldi and Epipen furies on, a landmark report by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines has called for delinking drug prices from research and development (R&D) costs.

The report calls for human rights to be placed over intellectual property laws and all countries must freely be able to use flexibilities granted under TRIPS to access affordable medicines.

Recommendations of the Report:

  • Countries that threaten, and retaliate against, generic drugs makers in countries such as India for using their entitlements under the TRIPS Agreement will be forced to face significant sanctions.
  • The panel convened to advice U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for greater transparency in drug pricing and public health impact assessments in free trade agreements.
  • Policy incoherencies arise when legitimate economic, social and political interests and priorities are misaligned or in conflict with the right to health.
  • On the one hand, governments seek the economic benefits of increased trade. On the other, the imperative to respect patents on health technologies could, in certain instances, create obstacles to the public health objectives and the right to health.

The report recognizes the incoherence between the human rights and the intellectual property rules.

  • This report gets to the heart of the problem with access to medicines that the intellectual property rules promoted by the pharmaceutical industry are at odds with the human right to health.
  • If implemented, the report’s recommendations will go a long way towards ensuring all people have access to affordable quality medicines.
  • Access to medicines is not just a poor country problem. The high price of drugs is crippling healthcare systems across the world. Millions of people are suffering and dying because the medicines they need are too expensive.
  • The Organisation has called on the N. panel to explore recommendations such as a ban on intellectual property rules in trade agreements and excluding medicines on national lists or on the WHO List for Essential Medicines from intellectual property rules.

India down to 112th spot on World Economic Freedom Index

Source: The Hindu

India has slipped by 10 positions to 112th, out of 159 countries and territories, as it “fared badly” across categories including legal system and regulation, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report.

Although China, Bangladesh and Pakistan lagged behind India at 113th, 121st and 133th ranks respectively, Bhutan (78), Nepal (108) and Sri Lanka (111) were better placed on the World Economic Freedom Index.

India’s Score Card:

India has fared badly in all categories i.e. legal system and property rights (86), sound money (130), freedom to trade internationally (144) and regulation (132) except the size of the government (8).

Who Published the Report?

India’s leading public policy think tank, Centre for Civil Society, has published the report in collaboration with Canada’s Fraser Institute.

The report is based on data from 2014 and measures the economic freedom by analysing the policies and institutions of all 159 countries and territories.

Other Findings:

Hong Kong has the highest level of economic freedom worldwide, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the UAE, Australia, and the UK.

The 10 lowest-ranked countries are: Iran, Algeria, Chad, Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, Argentina, Republic of Congo, Libya and lastly Venezuela.

7 women get M.S. Subbulakshmi Awards:

Source: The Hindu

The Dr. M.S. Subbulakshmi Centenary Awards were presented to seven of India’s most-respected women artistes — vocalists Girija Devi, Kishori Amonkar, Aruna Sairam and Vishaka Hari; dancers Yamini Krishnamurthy and Vyjayantimala Bali; and Pandavani exponent Teejan Bai.

AIR would launch multimedia website & mobile app of its Baluchi services

Source: Business Standard, Economic Times

Baluchi-speaking people in the Af-Pak region and other parts of the world can now tune into AIR broadcast in the language through computers and mobile phones as India’s public broadcaster launched multimedia webpage and mobile app of the service.

Who launched this service?

All India Radio

To Whom?

Baluchi-Speaking people in Af-Pak region.

Why this move now?

  • The move to launch AIR’s digital platforms in Baluchi came after Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech in which he had brought up the issue of Pakistani atrocities on the people of Baluchistan and PoK.
  • India had also raised the issue of atrocities in Baluchistan at the meeting of a UN.
  • Prasar Bharati officials said the mobile app and the webpage were just “value addition” as Baluchi service of the AIR has been in existence since 1974.
  • There are several languages in which services are broadcast by the AIR. Baluchi is happening today, it will also happen for other languages said the officials.

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2016

  • The 2016 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer was observed across the world on 16 September 2016.
  • The theme for the year 2016 is “Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united

History:

In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

What was done?

  • Countries were invited to devote the Day to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the Protocol and its amendments.
  • The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

  • The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) was an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
  • It was agreed on 26 August 1987, and entered into force on 26 August 1989, followed by a first meeting in Helsinki, May 1989.
  • The Environment Ministry launched a major research and development initiative to develop long-term technology to mitigate the impact of refrigerant gases on the ozone layer.
  • India reaffirms its commitment to working with all other countries to safeguard the Earth’s natural ecosystem.
  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences were some of the key players of the initiatives.

Report on “Incentivising Pulses Production through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Related Policies’

Source: PIB

Report name: Incentivising Pulses Production through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Related Policies.

Submitted by: Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Arvind Subramanian

Submitted to:  Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley.

Task given to the committee: The panel was set up in the wake of a recent surge in retail prices of pulses.



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