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Insights Daily Current Events, 30 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 30 July 2015

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Whistleblower, activist win Magsaysay Award

Whistleblower officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi and human rights activist Anshu Gupta are among the five winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award this year.

Details:

Sanjeev Chaturvedi is a 2002-batch Indian Forest Service officer.

Anshu Gupta is the founder of the non-governmental organisation Goonj. He is recognised for his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.

About Ramon Magsaysay Award:

  • The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government.
  • It is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.
  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award is often considered to be an Asian equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
  • The award is given to individuals and organisations from asia region for their service to the society.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Anuradha Roy, Sahota on Booker longlist

The man Booker Prize committee recently said that Indian writer Anuradha Roy and British-Indian Sunjeev Sahota are among the 13 international authors on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize of 2015.

  • Roy has been selected for Sleeping on Jupiter , her third novel, and Mr. Sahota for The Year of the Runaways.

About Man Booker Prize:

  • The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language, and published in the UK.
  • The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade.
  • The prize was historically limited to authors from the U.K., the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe; this is only the second year that it has been open to anyone writing in the English language and published in the U.K.
  • The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.

Sources: The hindu, Wiki.

Cabinet clears changes to GST Bill

The Union Cabinet has cleared the changes suggested by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee to the proposed GST Constitutional Amendment Bill.

The changes include:

  • Giving States full five-year compensation for any revenue loss due to the introduction of the goods and services tax.
  • Exempting stock transfers within group companies from the 1% additional tax on inter-State supplies.

The Rajya Sabha Select panel was set up by the government in the budget session to break the deadlock in Parliament.

GST:

The goods and services tax (GST) is a comprehensive value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services. It is an indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at a national level.

  • Through a tax credit mechanism, this tax is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain.
  • The system allows the set-off of GST paid on the procurement of goods and services against the GST which is payable on the supply of goods or services. However, the end consumer bears this tax as he is the last person in the supply chain.
  • Experts say that GST is likely to improve tax collections and boost India’s economic development by breaking tax barriers between States and integrating India through a uniform tax rate.

What are the benefits of GST?

  • Under GST, the taxation burden will be divided equitably between manufacturing and services, through a lower tax rate by increasing the tax base and minimizing exemptions.
  • It is expected to help build a transparent and corruption-free tax administration. GST will be is levied only at the destination point, and not at various points (from manufacturing to retail outlets).

Currently, a manufacturer needs to pay tax when a finished product moves out from a factory, and it is again taxed at the retail outlet when sold.

The GST Bill’s passage will require a constitutional amendment, which means a two-thirds majority is required in Parliament. The Assemblies too will have to approve the Bill ahead of the April 2016 deadline.

Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.org.

Infrastructure fund

The Union Cabinet has approved creation of National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) as a trust that will have a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.

  • The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
  • The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
  • Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund. It will be able to use funds from monetisation of government-owned land.

The decision to set up NIIF was announced by the union Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Anti-hijacking Bill

The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2014, which looks to give the government more teeth in dealing with hijacking incidents involving Indian aircraft.

  • The Cabinet’s approval of these amendments comes after the Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha last December and then referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which recommended the amendments.

Why is it required?

  • The current law, the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982, was last amended in 1994.
  • After the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 in December, 1999, it was felt necessary for providing the award of death penalty to perpetrators of the act of hijacking.
  • The incident of 9/11, where aircrafts were used as weapons, also created the need to further amend the existing Act.

About the Bill:

  • The Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August, 2010.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982.
  • The Act states that any person who unlawfully, by force or intimidation seizes an aircraft commits the offence of hijacking. The Bill adds that any person (whether alone or in a group) who attempts to commit hijacking is guilty of the offence. Any person who abets such an offence is also guilty.
  • The Act stipulates a penalty of life imprisonment and fine for the offence of hijacking. The Bill enhances the penalty for hijacking to death or life imprisonment and fine.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

India under pressure to declare emission targets

Ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris in December this year, India is under growing pressure to announce its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), containing emission reductions targets, at the earliest date.

What are INDCs?

These are individual country commitments which are expected to indicate through their form and strength what shape any 2015 agreement might take.

  • Countries across the globe have committed to create a new international climate agreement by the conclusion of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015.
  • In preparation, countries have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
  • The INDCs combine the top-down system of a United Nations climate agreement with bottom-up system-in elements through which countries put forward their agreements in the context of their own national circumstances, capabilities and priorities, within the ambition to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
  • The INDCs will not only contain steps taken towards emission reductions, but also aim to address steps taken to adapt to climate change impacts, and what support the country needs-or will provide to address climate change.
  • In February 2015, Switzerland became the first nation to submit its INDC to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, later followed by the European Union.

Sources: The hindu, unfcc, Wiki.

Insights Secure Prelims 2015

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