CGS-14- Micro

A cess is a temporary levy. Abolishing these cesses makes sense when the government gets only paltry revenues, and the cost of collection is high. Cesses are excluded from the divisible pool, and states have constantly demanded them being scrapped, or making them part of the divisible pool. The CAG has also found reporting on the use of cess collections incomplete, making it non-transparent. This makes a case for removing the cess and funding via tax revenue.

Swachh Paryatan App

Union Government launched ‘Swachh Parayatan’ mobile application to keep tourist places clean. This mobile app will enable citizens, tourists to take photograph of garbage seen at the monument and upload it on the app along with his or her remarks. On uploading images and remarks in the app, it will send an SMS to the ASI Nodal Officer concerned with the monument to take further action to clean the garbage. Thereafter, the Nodal Officer will send confirmation about the redressal of the complaint through an SMS.

CGPDTM

Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry is nodal agency that supervises the working of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws in India. On February 23, 2016, it issued an order excluding software patents in its revised guidelines for Computer Related Inventions (CRIs). The new order clearly mentions that, mere computer programmes those not in conjunction with a novel hardware will not be granted patent in India.

India remains world’s largest arms importer

As per latest Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data, India continues to remain the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 14% of the global arms imports in the 2011-2015 timeframe. India is followed by China (4.7%), Australia (3.6%), Pakistan (3.3%), Vietnam (2.9%) and South Korea (2.6%). Thus, India is three times greater than those of its rivals Pakistan and China. Its biggest suppliers are Russia, United States (US), Israel and France. This indicates India’s failure to build a strong domestic defence-industrial base (DIB) and Indian arms industry has failed to produce competitive indigenously-designed weapons. India has spent over 120 billion dollars on arms acquisitions over the last 15 years most of them from foreign suppliers. Earlier China used to be top on the imports chart but in past few decades it has gradually built a stronger DIB. China has emerged as the world’s third largest arms exporter after United States and Russia. Pakistan is the main recipient of Chinese arms exports accounting for 35% of the total imports followed by Bangladesh (20%) and Myanmar (16%).

Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody (RMAb)

World’s first fast-acting anti-rabies drug Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody (RMAb) is to be launched in India. The drug has been developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and US-based MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. RMAb drug is a human IgG1 monoclonal antibody that instantly deactivates rabies virus by specifically binding to a conformational epitope of G glycoprotein of the virus. It is 25% cheaper compared to the existing expensive human rabies immunoglobulin (hRIG) treatment.  It has advantage of automatically precluding the chances of transmitting blood-borne infections that are present in rabies immunoglobulin vaccines.

The drug has been manufactured using recombinant DNA technology that includes inserting DNA encoding antigen (such as a bacterial surface protein) to the microbial DNA of cells in the body to stimulate immune response.

During various phases of human clinical trials of RMAb spanning 9 years in India and abroad, the drug was found to be safe and effective.

IBSAMAR 2016

The fifth edition of IBSAMAR 2016 trilateral naval exercise between Brazil, India and South Africa kicked off in Goa. IBSAMAR is abbreviated as India-Brazil-South Africa Maritime.

Justice HL Dattu: New Chairman of NHRC

For CJI H L Dattu was selected as chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). NHRC is a statutory body {esd. under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993}, whose chairman is selected by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister and members Lok Sabha Speaker, Home Minister, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Appointment is made by President on Recommendation of this committee.

MSP of Raw Jute Hiked

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has hiked Minimum Support Price (MSP) of raw jute from 2,700 to 3,200 rupees per quintal. We note here that MSPs are decided by CCEA on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). CCEA is headed by Prime Minister.

SAARC Currency Swap Arrangement Extended

RBI had extended currency swap arrangement with SAARC nations till mid-November 2017. Under this arrangement, RBI provides currency swap to seven SAARC nations both in US dollar and Indian Rupee. The objective is to enhance economic cooperation and strengthen economic stability among SAARC countries.

Union Cabinet gives nod to incentivise cashless transactions

Union Cabinet has approved some short and medium term measures to incentivise cashless / digital transactions. Some of these include:

  • Taking measures towards withdrawal of surcharges, service charges, convenience fee etc on digital payments.
  • Introduction of appropriate acceptance infrastructure for cashless payments in Government organisations.
  • Rationalisation of the merchant discount rate (MDR) on telecom service charges and card transactions for digital financial transactions to promote mobile banking.

The objective is to curb the flow of cash in economy.

India losses solar case against US at WTO

India lost a case against United States at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for in breaching of international trade rules. The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) ruled that India’s domestic content requirement for National Solar Mission (NSM) discriminated against imported solar technology.

Lok Sabha passes Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Both the houses passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 as a follow up to the 100th amendment act of the constitution on 25 and 26 February, 2016. The act became a law on 3rd March.

The historic land boundary agreement signed between India and Bangladesh had altered the geography and demography of the district of Cooch Behar in West Bengal. Under this agreement, 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (Chhitmahals) were added in the Indian Territory and 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh territory. Since the newly acquired area has become the part of Indian territory, it was necessary to make delimitation exercise within the limited constituency area of Cooch Behar before the ensuing 2016 West Bengal State Assembly elections. The proposed amendment will change section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002. These amendments will give voting rights to people who became Indian citizens following the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh. Amendment of Delimitation Act, 2002 will enable Election Commission of India (ECI) to carry out limited delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Cooch Behar District of West Bengal.

Indian scientists develop Herbal Medicine for Dengue

Indian scientists for first time have claimed to have developed herbal medicine against mosquito borne dengue fever using traditional Indian medicine system Ayurveda. The herbal dengue medicine was developed using alcoholic extract of Cissampelos pariera Linn (Cipa extract) derived from velvet leaf, a species of flowering plant. The drug has proved to be potent inhibitor to all four types (strains) of dengue virus.

Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015

Parliament has passed Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015 to establish Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The Bill replaces the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. The bill establishes BIS as a national standard body for development of standardization and assessment and quality assurance of goods, articles, services, processes and systems. It broaden the ambit of BIS and empower Union Government to make it mandatory to carry the standard mark for certain notified goods, articles, processes, etc. The Bill extends the ambit of BIS to include services, products and processes while ensuring production of world class goods. It make BIS a national standards body for introduce mandatory hallmarking of precious metals, prevent misuse of standard marks. At present, BIS is not formally recognised as a national standards body of the country, though it is representing India in various international bodies.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) provides free of cost LPG (cooking gas) connections to women from BPL Households. This scheme will be implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It will be for the first time ministry will be implementing a welfare scheme. Under this scheme, Financial support of 1600 rupees for each LPG connection will be provided to the BPL households.

IRNSS-1F satellite

On March 10, 2016, ISRO successfully launched India’s sixth navigation Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) 1F satellite. IRNSS 1F satellite is part of the space segment satellites of the IRNSS system that has total constellation of seven satellites. It has a 12 year mission life.

BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been designated as the Central Authority under Article 15 of the Convention.

The BIMSTEC Convention aims to extend widest measures of assistance among 7 member countries through mutual cooperation. It seeks to enhance capability and effectiveness of the member states in investigation and prosecution of crimes, including crimes related to transnational organized crime, terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking and cyber-crimes. It will pave way for establishment of regional arrangements for mutual assistance in criminal matters. It will greatly contribute for the effective cooperation in the control of criminal activities among the member countries.

About BIMSTEC

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is the sub-regional group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia.

They are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka (from South Asia) and Myanmar, Thailand (from South East Asia).

  • Established: 6 June 1997.
  • Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Objectives: Technological and economical cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It also covers cooperation in commerce, technology, investment, agriculture, tourism, human resource development, fisheries, transport and communication, textiles, leather etc.

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 to protect the interests of consumers and curb the malpractices in the real estate sector. The bill seeks to create a uniform regulatory mechanism across the country and enhance the growth of construction sector. It also ensures to bring transparency and accountability in the real estate sector to access capital and financial markets essential for its long term growth.

Key Features
  • Establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs) and tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals (REAT) to settle disputes.
  • Enforces the contract between the developer and buyer and fast track the mechanism to settle disputes.
  • 70% of the amount collected from buyers for a project must be maintained in a separate bank (escrow) account and must only be used for construction of that project. State government can alter this amount to less than 70%.
  • In case of delays in completion of projects on time, developers will have to pay the same penal interest rate as the buyer does.
  • All information for registered projects must be disclosed on website of the RERA. It will include details of promoters, land status, layout plan, schedule of execution and status of various approvals.
  • Promoters and real estate agents must register project details with RERAs who intend to sell any plot, apartment or building.
  • The commercial real estate also has been brought under its ambit. Projects under construction are also required to be registered with the RERAs.
  • The term carpet area has been clearly defined in order to eliminate any scope for wrongdoing.

UJALA Programme

Union Power Ministry has announced name UJALA for the LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). UJALA is acronym for Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All. The National LED based DELP programme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 2015 for energy conservation by reducing energy consumption.

The target of programme is to replace 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is implementing it and is currently running successfully in over 120 cities across India. The initiative is part of the Union Government’s efforts to spread the message of energy efficiency in the country. LED bulbs have a very long life, almost 50 times more than ordinary bulbs, and 8-10 times that of CFLs, and therefore provide both energy and cost savings in the medium term. It will help in saving of energy around 24 crore units every year.

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