29, April 2017

1.EESL collaborates with NITI Aayog for energy efficiency

Source: PIB

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) collaborated with NITI Aayog to retrofit LED lights, energy efficient ACs, Ceiling fans, Energy saver ACs, energy efficient Water Pumps and also installed chiller system in the NITI Aayog premises.

This has resulted in an annual energy savings of 11.4 lakh kVAh, an annual monetary savings of Rs 1.02 crore and led to an annual CO2 reduction of 966 tons.

Key facts:

  • NITI Aayog initiated the energy efficiency interventions in March 2014 in consultation with EESL. EESL analysed the connected load of NITI Aayog building and based on the highest components of energy utilization, target areas for interventions were identified.
  • Additionally, monitoring and verification of the interventions was also carried out through physical verification of the replaced energy systems with wattage and operating hours by EESL.

EESL:

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under Ministry of Power, has taken up the project of distributing LED bulbs under its flagship initiative, the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP).
  • The Prime Minister launched the DELP scheme on 5th January 2015.
  • The scheme is presently running in nineteen states & union territories in India and is rapidly expanding across all other
  • The target of the DELP is to replace all the 77 crore incandescent bulbs sold in India by LEDs.
  • This will result in reduction of 20,000 MW load, energy savings of 100 billion KWh and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions savings of 80 million tons every year. The annual saving in electricity bills of consumers will be Rs. 40,000 crore, considering average tariff of Rs. 4 per kWh.

Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme(DELP): It was launched as “Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)”. The scheme was announced as “Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP)”, urging the people to use LED bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs, tube lights and CFL bulbs as they are more efficient, long lasting and economical in their life cycle duration. The scheme was implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) (under the Ministry of Power).

Target: The government’s target is to replace 77 crore incandescent bulbs in India with LEDs by 2019 leading to an expected reduction in installed load of 20,000 MW with an annual estimated savings of over 100 million kwh and an annual reduction of Rs.400 billion (US$5.9 billion) in electricity bills.

2.Health Ministry launches ‘Test and Treat Policy for HIV’

Source: PIB

Ending stigma is of paramount importance to enable persons infected and affected with HIV access health services

  • As soon as a person is tested and found to be positive, he will be provided with ART irrespective of his CD count or clinical stage.” This was stated by the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare,.
  • This will be for all men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed as a HIV + case. This will improve longevity, improve quality of life of those infected and will save them from many opportunistic infections, especially TB.

National Strategic Plan for HIV – Test and Treat Policy for HIV;

  • The Health Minister also announced that India will soon develop a National Strategic Plan for HIV for next seven years and these seven years will be crucial for ending AIDS.
  • To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed very recently, which is an historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV.
  • The Health Minister further informed that the key provisions of HIV/AIDS Bill are prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy & opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and appointment of ombudsman in every State.

Analysis

  • All those who are positive should get treatment and for that the Health Ministry is constantly expanding treatment delivery sites.
  • “We have nearly 1600 ART and Link ART sites where treatment is provided across the country and recently we crossed the 1 million people on ART, second country in world to have such large numbers on free lifelong treatment. We have been able to avert 1.5 lakh deaths due to ART and we will be able to avert 4.5 lakh more deaths by expanding provision of ART.
  • The 90:90:90 strategy that the Ministry has adopted will help to identify 90% of those infected, place 90% of these on treatment and ensure 90% have their virus under control. “This strategy will offer us an opportunity to work towards our commitment during HLM and WHA on “ending AIDS by 2030” as a part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)

Bill and its provisions:

  1. It aims to end the epidemic by 2030 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. There are approximately 21 lakh persons living with HIV in India.
  2. The Bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
  3. A person living with AIDS cannot be treated unfairly at employment, educational establishments, renting a property, standing for public or private office or providing healthcare and insurance services.
  4. The Bill also aims to enhance access to healthcare services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
  5. Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
  6. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
  7. No person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status except with their informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  8. The State and Central government should ensure prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, and facilitate access to welfare schemes especially for women and children.
  9. Every person in the care and custody of the State shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.
  10. The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed’ off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.

3.Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

Source: PIB

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers, strengthening the Government’s commitment to foster a non-adversarial tax regime.

The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

Advance pricing agreements

  • The Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) program allows the taxpayer and the tax authority to avoid future transfer pricing disputes by entering into a prospective agreement, generally covering at least five tax years, regarding the taxpayer’s transfer prices.

Bilateral vs. unilateral APAs

  • Taxpayers may enter into APAs with more than one tax authority – i.e., bilateral or multilateral APAs – through the mutual agreement procedure (MAP) included in most income tax treaties. Unilateral APAs involve agreements between only the taxpayer and one government.

Background:

  • The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014.
  • The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arm’s length price of international transactions in advance for the maximum of five future years.
  • Further, the taxpayer has the option to rollback the APA for four preceding years. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) and that has resulted in more than 800 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just five years.

4.4th National Standards Conclave

Source: PIB

Department of Commerce, Government of India in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) and other knowledge partners is organizing the 4th National Standards Conclave at New Delhi.

The objective of the two day Conclave is to bring awareness and prepare Industries, Central Government Ministries, State Governments, regulatory/standards setting and conformity assessment bodies on the growing importance of “Standards” in the changing scenario of global trade.

Key facts:

  • The Standards Conclave is being held in the backdrop of diminishing importance of tariffs and rising influence of standards and regulation both in goods and services trade.
  • It must be recognized that the days of differential standards – low for domestic market and high for exports – are over and if the Indian industry has to survive and thrive, it has to adopt global standards.
  • The Ministries/regulators/state governments have to also realize that their initiatives and schemes have to be built around global standards if they have to succeed in their objectives.

A good standards regime shall fulfill the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister for “Make in India” campaign. It would also help in preventing flooding of domestic market with unsafe/sub-standard imports at the expense of our domestic industry as well as consumers.

The Conclave would also aim at preparing an Indian National Strategy for Standardization (INSS) document to enable the development of a harmonized, dynamic, and mature standards ecosystem in India.

The National Standards Body of India

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India is a statutory organization under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.

Vision

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India, resolves to be the leader in all matters concerning Standardization, Certification and Quality. In order to attain this, the Bureau would strive:

  • To provide efficient timely service.
  • To satisfy the customers needs for quality of goods and services.
  • To work and act in such a way that each task performed as individuals or as a corporate entity, leads to excellence and enhances the credibility and image of the Organization.

5.India, Eurasia union to seal pact

Source: The Hindu

India is set to formalise a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, clearing the decks for negotiations on deepening trade relations with the five former Soviet republics.

India and EEU:

  • The Eurasian Economic Union comprises Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The FTA is expected to open up a huge market with a trade potential of $37 to 62 billion.
  • Trade between India and the five Eurasian countries stands at about $11 billion. The FTA with the Eurasian countries was dictated by India’s need to diversify into new markets.

What does the FTA with EEU has in store for India?

  • EEU has vast reserves of natural resources comprising oil, gas, electric power, mineral fertilisers, coal, iron and steel, etc, and offers a ready market to be harnessed and explored. Undoubtedly, the FTA with EEU will bring in a lot of benefits for the Indian economy.
  • The realisation of the North-South Transport Corridor—connecting India, Central Asia, Russia and Iran—will provide momentum to the trading relationship between India and EEU members by ensuring easy movement of goods and reducing time and freight costs. Granting business visas to Indian exporters will also get channelised once the FTA is in place.

6.PM Modi inaugurates International Basava Convention

Source: Indian Express

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled translated volumes of Vachana in 23 Indian languages on the occasion of Basava Jayanti.

An  event marking the birth anniversary of Kannada philosopher Basaveshwar in the national capital

  • The 23 Vachana volumes were edited by late M M Kalburgi and have been translated into other languages by more than 200 people.
  • Prime Minister also released the digital version of the work. This is the first ever celebration of Basava Jayanti at the national level in New Delhi.
  • The translated volumes of Vachana was commissioned by the Basava Samithi at a cost of 2.5 crore rupees of which the Karnataka government has contributed 1 crore rupees.

Basava Convention

  • Vachana is a prosaic form very much popular in the Kannada literature. It propagates values of universal brotherhood. It was penned by Basavanna and other saints.
  • The 12th-century social reformer Basavanna used this style of writing to spread social awareness and bring equality in the 12th-century society.
  • Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet and a social reformer who lived in Karnataka during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I. He served as the chief minister of his kingdom.
  • Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.
  • During his tenure as Chief Minister, he introduced many new public institutions like Anubhava Mantapa (“hall of spiritual experience”) that would facilitate men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to have a healthy and open discuss on various spiritual and mundane questions of life.
  • A 13th-century sacred Telugu text, the Basava purana by Palkuriki Somanatha offers a full account of Basava’s life and ideas. In 2003, former President of India Abdul Kalam inaugurated Basaveshwar’s statue in the Parliament of India. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the river Thames in London.

7.Money laundering may be made criminal offence

Source: The Hindu

The Central government is considering a proposal to make money laundering a separate criminal offence to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, irrespective of a probe by other agencies.

  • This will facilitate quick action against those indulging in money laundering.
  • The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has also been of the view that money laundering investigations by the Enforcement Directorate should be allowed without any dependence on registration of cases by other police agencies under the legal provisions listed in the schedule of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Significance of this move

  • Under the current arrangement in India, the fate of money laundering cases depends on that of the probe and prosecutions in predicate offences pursued by primary agencies.
  • Many in government agencies are of the view that certain restrictions on money laundering investigations on several occasions cause impediments in taking the cases to their logical conclusion.

Other countries:

  • Money laundering in itself has been defined as a criminal offence in several countries.
  • Besides, there are separate legislations for dealing with funds generated through activities like drug trafficking or terror financing. The United States has very stringent laws to check money laundering.
  • In the United Kingdom, police have to prove predicate offence through circumstantial evidence, linking it to the funds generated and laundered.
  • Wherever money laundering is treated as a stand-alone crime, U.K. agencies are not required to wait for the outcome of investigations into the predicate offence.
  • Also, they are not supposed to prove that the funds are proceeds of a particular offence.
  • Based on enough circumstantial evidence, they have to just establish that the proceeds had a criminal origin.

Way ahead:

The  government will have to bring about several amendments to the PMLA, including the current definition of the “proceeds of crime” that is right now dependent upon the predicate offences as listed in the Act’s schedule.

ED Investigation on Black Money

  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has not pitched for a nodal coordinating agency to deal with black money cases stashed illegally aboard and at home.
  • The ED is mandated with the task of enforcing Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Initiation of any action by the Enforcement Directorate under PMLA is subject to registration of a case of commission of a predicate offence included in the Schedule of PMLA by any other Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Overseas investigations are also required to be conducted in certain cases which is again a time consuming process. Upon investigation, the assets/property involved in money laundering is attached by the Directorate and persecution complaint is filed in designated Special Courts.
  • Further, there are other legal forums such as Adjudicating Authority under PMLA, Appellate Tribunal under PMLA, Special Courts, High Courts etc. which are involved in the scheme of PMLA 2002. However, Enforcement Directorate makes all sincere efforts to bring the PMLA cases to logical conclusion in a time bound manner.

PMLA 2002

  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering.
  • PMLA and the Rules notified there under came into force with effect from July 1, 2005.
  • The Act and Rules notified there under impose obligation on banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries to verify identity of clients, maintain records and furnish information.
  • Making willful attempt to evade tax etc under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 a scheduled offence under PMLA, 2002; Enabling attachment and confiscation of property equivalent in value held within the country where the property/proceeds of crime is taken or held outside the country by amending the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 through the Finance Act, 2015;
  • Proactively engaging with foreign governments with a view to facilitate and enhance the exchange of information under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs)/Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs)/Multilateral Conventions.

8.Campaign sends 596 dropouts to school

Source: The Hindu

Altogether 596 students who had dropped out of school have returned for admissions to them in Tripura under a special campaign by the State’s School Education Department and the Centre’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).

Why  students who had dropped out of school?

  • Tripura had an alarming rate of school drop-outs at the height of insurgency, when scores of schools became non-functional, mainly in the hilly areas. The security situation has improved over the past ten years.
  • The majority of school drop-outs are girls, a study has revealed.
  • School Education Department officials on Friday said they identified 3,385 drop-out students between the ages of 14 and 18.
  • Most had left school in Classes VIII or IX mainly due to family reasons.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA): Ministry of Human Resource and Development

The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) scheme initiated in 2009, demonstrates the government’s ambition for a secondary education system that can support India’s growth and development.

  • The scheme was launched in March, 2009 with the objective to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. It is envisaged to achieve an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 at secondary stage of implementation of the scheme by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of any habitation.
  • The other objectives include improving quality of education imparted at secondary level through making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, providing universal access to secondary level education by 2017, i.e., by the end of 12th Five Year Plan and achieving universal retention by 2020.
  • Important quality interventions provided under the scheme are: (i) appointment of additional teachers to reduce PTR to 30:1, (ii) focus on Science, Math and English education, (iii) In-service training of teachers, (iv) science laboratories, (v) ICT enabled education, (vi) curriculum reforms; and (vii) teaching learning reforms.
  • Important equity interventions provided in the scheme are: (i) special focus in micro planning (ii) preference to Ashram schools for upgradation (iii) preference to areas with concentration of SC/ST/Minority for opening of schools (iv) special enrolment drive for the weaker section (v) more female teachers in schools; and (vi) separate toilet blocks for girls.
  • Implementation mechanism of the Scheme: The scheme is being implemented by the State government societies established for implementation of the scheme. The central share is released to the implementing agency directly. The applicable State share is also released to the implementing agency by the respective State Governments.

9.A safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries

Source:  The Hindu

Scientists have developed a safer alternative to fire-prone lithium-ion batteries, which are common in household devices such as smartphones and laptops.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed the nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) batteries in which a three-imensional Zn “sponge” replaces the powdered zinc anode, or positively charged electrode, traditionally used.

Benefits of Ni-Zn batteries:

  • With 3D Zn, the battery provides an energy content and rechargeability that rival lithium-ion batteries while avoiding the safety issues that continue to plague lithium. Zinc-nickel battery provides nearly the same electrical jolt, but not the fire risk of Li-ion cells.
  • The 3D sponge form factor allows us to reimagine zinc, a well-known battery material, for the 21st century.
  • With the benefits of rechargeability, the 3D Zn sponge is ready to be deployed within the entire family of Zn-based alkaline batteries across the civilian and military sectors.

However,

Zinc-based batteries are the go-to global battery for single-use applications, but are not considered rechargeable in practice due to their tendency to grow conductive whiskers (dendrites) inside the battery, which can grow long enough to cause short circuits.

 



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