Current Affairs Current Affairs - 20 March 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 20 March 2016

General Affairs 

BJP Leaders Must Be The Bridge Between Workers And Government: PM Modi
  • BJP Leaders Must Be The Bridge Between Workers And Government: PM ModiNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants BJP workers to use the social media to reach out to the people and inform them of the work being done by the party and the government. The party leaders, he said, should act as a bridge between the workers and the government.

    Prime Minister Modi, in his 30-minute address to the members of the BJP National Executive on Saturday, told the BJP leaders, "It is your responsibility to ensure that the suggestions of the workers reach the government."

    The Prime Minister advised party leaders to hold weekly meetings with the workers. "We should listen to the workers' suggestions," he said. Mr Modi cautioning against the party alienating workers.

    Party chief Amit Shah said, "There should be weekly conversations with the workers."

    This is the first meeting of the party's national executive after its defeat in the Bihar elections last year.

    He said the party needs to focus on getting information on the schemes and programmes of the government to the people. In a meeting earlier this week, of the party's lawmakers from Uttar Pradesh - Prime Minister Modi is one of them - the prime minister had expressed dismay over the Parliamentarians not being aware of the programmes of the government.

    How many of the party's 71 Lok Sabha MPs from UP had a list of villages in their constituencies where electricity has reached under his government's Deendayal Jyotigram scheme, PM Modi had asked. No lawmaker raised a hand.

    He had then asked how many had bothered to download a mobile app launched by the Prime Minister's Office last year, which provides comprehensive information on the government's achievements and initiatives, apart from day to day updates from the PM. No one said they had.

    At the same meeting, held to review the party's situation in Uttar Pradesh where elections will be held early next year, Party president Amit Shah had spoken on the importance of a well-rounded social media strategy.

Interest Cut An Assault By Modi Government On Middle Class: Rahul Gandhi
  • Interest Cut An Assault By Modi Government On Middle Class: Rahul Gandhi
    NEW DELHI:  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today came down hard on the government for slashing the interest rates on small savings, including Public Provident Fund (PPF), terming it as yet another assault on the middle class.

    "Slashing interest rates on small savings - on PPF and KVPs, is yet another assault by the Modi Govt on hard working middle class people," Mr Gandhi said in a series of tweets.

    "This Govt has failed farmers, failed the poor & now it's failing the middle class. Modiji ppl are seeing through your event management politics! (sic)," he said.

    Last night, AICC had also reacted sharply to the move saying it is "fleecing" the poor and is a "criminal breach" of trust of hapless people. It had described it as an overt attempt at "robbing money by snatching it from unsuspecting individuals".

    In a move that will hit common man, the government had on Friday slashed interest rates on all small savings schemes, including PPF, Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and senior citizen deposits, to make them more market aligned.

    Interest rate on Public Provident Fund (PPF) scheme has been cut to 8.1 per cent for the period April 1 to June 30, from 8.7 per cent, at present.

Get 10 Fishermen Freed From Kuwait, Jayalalithaa Urges PM Modi
  • Get 10 Fishermen Freed From Kuwait, Jayalalithaa Urges PM ModiCHENNAI:  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to get repatriated 10 fishermen stranded in Kuwait after being detained in a "foisted" case by the police.

    "I request you to instruct the Embassy of India in Kuwait to take all necessary measures to ensure the immediate repatriation of these innocent Indian fishermen," she said in a letter to Prime Minister Modi.

    She said 11 fishermen - 10 from Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and another from Kerala - went to Kuwait in July, last year to work as fishermen. They went under the sponsorship of two persons, Hussain Rasheed and Mohamed Rasheed.

    They were sent for fishing for about six months in the boats owned by the sponsors. However, the sponsors did not pay them the share as per the terms of employment.

    "Hence, the fishermen struggled to barely sustain themselves and were unable to send money to their dependent families back at home," she said.

    As the 11 fishermen lost all hope of getting their remuneration from their employers, they requested for their return passage to India, which the sponsors refused.

    "Subsequently, they were detained by the local police on a foisted case on a complaint by the sponsors and released after a month's detention," she said.

    "It is reported that their passports are under the custody of the sponsors who are neither allowing them to work nor return to India."

    She requested necessary steps to ensure that the fishermen got their due wages. "I request immediate action as their families and dependents in India are anxious about the safety of these fishermen and are also suffering without any means of livelihood."

125 Children Fall Ill After Eating Midday Meal in Uttar Pradesh, Probe Ordered
  • 125 Children Fall Ill After Eating Midday Meal in Uttar Pradesh, Probe Ordered
    BALLIA:  Over 120 children in Uttar Pradesh' Ballia have fallen ill after consuming midday meal in a government school in Belhari today.

    The children ate a meal of puri, chole and kheer following which they started vomiting.

    They were rushed to the district hospital, K Balaji, District Magistrate-Incharge said.

    All the children are stated to be out of danger, Mr Balaji said, adding, a four-member team has been constituted to probe the incident.

    Meanwhile, Rakesh Singh, Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) said prima facie there was something wrong with the 'puri' served to the children.

    Four teachers have been suspended, while services of five others including two cooks have been terminated, the BSA added.

Arvind Kejriwal Accuses BJP Of Horse-Trading, Calls It 'Anti-National'
  • Arvind Kejriwal Accuses BJP Of Horse-Trading, Calls It 'Anti-National'NEW DELHI:  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the political developments in Uttarakhand, accusing it of "horse-trading" and terming the party as "corrupt, anti-national and power hungry".

    "Brazen horse trading-first Arunachal now Uttarakhand.

    BJP proving to be most corrupt, deshdrohi and power hungry party (sic)," the AAP leader tweeted.

    Mr Kejriwal also took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the tax proposals on Provident Fund and jewellers. "First tax on PF, then tax on jewellers. It seems Jaitley ji has decided to embarrass Modi ji."

    The four-year-old Congress government in Uttarakhand is under threat with nine rebel Congress lawmakers raising the banner of revolt and joining the BJP, which has staked claim to form government there.

    The rebel lawmakers included, Congress has a strength of 36 lawmakers in the 70-member Assembly. The ruling party also has the support of six members of the Progressive Democratic Front.

Business Affairs 

    Hinduja brothers top UK's 'Asian Rich List'
    • The Hinduja brothers have emerged as the richest Asian-origin entrepreneurs in Britain for the fourth consecutive year with an estimated personal fortune of 16.5 billion pounds.
      The India-born brothers G P Hinduja and S P Hinduja topped the 'Asian Rich List 2016' released here last night and the annual rankings showed that they had added one billion pounds to their personal fortune in a year to be worth an estimated 16.5 billion pounds.
      The 'Asian Rich List' assesses the total wealth of Britain's top 101 richest Asians and is compiled by UK-based publishing house Asian Media and Market.
      Steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal was ranked second in the list, released by the Indian High Commissioner to the UK Navtej Sarna.
      The fortune of Mittal, however, has plummeted by 3.3 billion pounds to finish with 6.4 billion pounds.
      Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul is listed as 15th richest with fortune worth 500 million pounds.
      This year's analysis showed that the UK's richest Asians have their fortunes worth 55.54 billion pounds up from 54.48 billion pounds in 2015.
      The highest riser and a new entry is Cyrus Vandrevala, with 2 billion pounds at number five. He moved to London with his wife Priya, having made his money in the US in the internet business. He is now in private equity and real estate.
      Sri Prakash Lohia, chairman of the Indorama Corporation, is listed 3rd richest with fortune worth 3 billion pounds.
      The Arora brothers - Simon, Bobby and Robin - owners of discount retail chain are 4th richest with a fortune worth 2.1 billion pounds.
      Within the Hinduja group -- conglomerate with interests across automotive, real estate and oil -- Gulf Oil, Ashok Leyland, IndusInd Bank and Hinduja global Solutions appear to have done particularly well.
      According to the Asian Rich List, Gopi Hinduja, co-chairman of the Hinduja group does not think that wealth should be measured only or even mainly by how much there is in someone's bank account.
      "If you consider one to be wealthy or rich only because of his money, you are totally wrong," he said.
      "I consider someone to be wealthy and rich if he has good friends, good contacts, good relationships. If you want to calculate my wealth by counting my money then you are wrong," he said.
      "My father always told his children, 'Act local but think global' and be diversified in your businesses. Don't be in one sector, be in different sectors, and also be spread geographically. don't be in just one country so that you are always balanced. If one sector is not doing well, the other will." 

      Artisans, job workers exempt from 1% excise on jewellery: Finance Ministry

      • Artisans, job workers exempt from 1% excise on jewellery: Finance MinistryIn a bid to calm the frayed nerves of jewellers agitating against imposition of 1 per cent excise duty, the finance ministry on Friday said artisans and job workers will not have to pay this levy.
        Following a meeting of representatives of jewellery industry with the revenue secretary, the finance ministry said: "Artisans and job workers are not covered (by )this duty and thus they are not required to take registration, pay duty, file returns and maintain any books of account."
        In case the jewellery is manufactured on job work basis, the liability to take registration, pay duty and file return is on the principal manufacturer and not on the job worker, the release said.
        Gold traders and jewellers continued their strike for the 17th day today in protest against the 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery announced in the Budget. It imposed a nominal excise duty of 1 per cent (without input tax credit) and 12.5 per cent (with input tax credit) on articles of jewellery.
        In their meeting with Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia yesterday, the jewellery industry representatives contended that re-imposition of levy will bring back the regime of the erstwhile Gold Control Act leading to harassment of jewellers, especially artisans and small goldsmiths.
        They are also worried that the levy would bring back the days of inspector raj and demanded that the exemption limit be increased to Rs 10 crore from Rs 6 crore in a year.
        The ministry clarified that the exemption of excise duty up to the clearance limit of Rs 6 crore will be available to a jewellery manufacturer if his aggregate value of domestic clearances is less than Rs 12 crore in the preceding financial year.
        "A jewellery manufacturer having a turnover less than Rs 12 crore during the preceding financial year and less than Rs 6 crore in the current financial year is not required to take registration and file return," the ministry said.
        It said the application for excise registration as well as returns can be filed online and field officers will provide hassle-free registration within two working days.
        There will be no post-registration physical verification of the jeweller's premises and no requirement of declaring pre-Budget stocks.
        Jewellers' private records or their records for state VAT or for Bureau of Indian Standards (in the case of hallmarked jewellery) will be accepted for all central excise purposes, the ministry added.

        The Centre's decision to levy tax on cross-border digital transactions will burden the small advertiser.

        • Just when digital advertising is inching towards the $1-billion mark in India, the Centre's move to impose an "equalisation levy" on cross-border digital transactions will, to begin with, add at least Rs 400 crore to its kitty. The social media has taunted it as the 'Google Tax' since the levy is on "specified services received or receivable by a non-resident not having permanent establishment in India, from a resident in India who carries out business or profession, or from a non-resident having permanent establishment in India".
          The social media nomenclature comes from Google's status as the largest platform earning from Indian advertisers - including a large number of very small firms - without paying any tax. The levy is a withholding tax that the advertiser will have to pay to the government for advertising on non-resident platforms, such as Google/You-tube, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or Apple. Since they are unlikely to bear the levy, small businesses will likely have to bear the additional cost of advertising on these platforms.
          This move is part of The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, where G20 countries have been trying to find measures to curb harmful tax-evading practices by companies that operate in multiple geographies. "A lot of global tech companies evade paying taxes by virtue of the fact that they don't have any physical establishment in India and the transactions happen in the digital space. Due to this, the government does not earn anything on the advertising revenue that is spent in India," says Bhairav Kothari, foun-der of outsourcing CFO service firm SuperCFO.
          "This move is a start of the new taxation regime in India and I will not be surprised if the government widens its scope to include more companies under this eventually," he adds.
          Internet advertising is becoming the largest advertising segment. According to PwC's global entertainment and media outlook 2015/2019 report, global total Internet advertising revenue is forecast to grow from $135.42 billion in 2014 to $239.87 billion in 2019, a CAGR over the period of 12.1 per cent.
          All companies irrespective of their location outside India will be charged the levy of 6 per cent. "However, how this tax will interplay with the double tax treaties with different countries has to be seen in terms of whether such tax can be levied or not," says Prashant Khatore, Partner, Tax and Regulatory Ser-vices, Ernst & Young.
          It is not necessary this step will lead to a lot of traffic diversion from Google and Facebook to Indian players such as Flipkart and Snapdeal because of the huge difference in their reach.
          The Budget has proposed that the Indian companies who do not deduct the equalisation tax against the payments made by them to the service provider outside India and do not deposit it to the government will not be able to include it as an expense in their P&L statement and will have to pay income tax on it, says Kothari.
          Pritin Kumar, Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP says: "At present, foreign companies receiving payments for online advertisements are not subject to withholding tax (this view is supported by judicial pronouncements); however, as the levy is not part of the income-tax law, foreign companies may not be able to get any tax treaty relief and the 6 per cent levy may end up being a cost for such companies."
          "The levy is exempted on transactions less than Rs 1 lakh annually but it is not clear whether it refers to the transaction amount of the payer or it refers to the amount received by the service provider," says Khatore.
          Google, Facebook and digital ad agency GroupM declined to comment for this story.

          Alibaba planning to enter Indian e-commerce market this year

          • Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba Group is planning to enter India this year and is looking at opportunities to build the business organically or through other means.
            "We are planning to enter the e-commerce business in India in 2016. We have been exploring very carefully the e-commerce opportunity in this country, which we think is very exciting on the backdrop of Digital India," Alibaba Group President J Michael Evans said here.
            The company said it is evaluating all opportunities to build the business organically or look at any other thing that might come along.
            Evans, who along with Alibaba Group's Global Managing Director K Guru Gowrappan met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today, said the company plans to come here and work to serve both customers, consumers and small businesses because that is the history and the DNA of Alibaba.
            "We have investments in both payments and e-commerce already and we will over the course of next year will figure about exactly what our strategy is," Evans said.
            Alibaba has made investments in Paytm and Snapdeal.
            Speaking about the meeting, Prasad said: "We hope Alibaba will come and have a good footprint in India, including the expanding business of ecommerce (for which) they are exploring the possibility. I have said very clearly that Alibaba is quite free to come and expand its footprint in India."
            Sources who were privy to the meeting said Alibaba is very keen to come to India in a very big way, particularly in the e-commerce segment.
            The company is exploring the potential whether to go on their own or set up shop with someone else.
            "I explained to them that e-commerce is a rising phenomenon in India with a growth rate of over 60 per cent," Prasad said.
            In November 2014, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who was on his first visit to India, said he would "invest more in India, work with Indian entrepreneurs and Indian technologists to improve the relationship between the two nations".
            Ma, one of the richest persons in China with a fortune of about USD 24 billion, founded Alibaba in 1999 in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang province.
            Meanwhile, Prasad also met Asia-Pacific head of Amazon Web Services (Public sector) Peter Moore, who discussed the company's plans to launch a dedicated cloud region in India later this year.

            India's forex reserves touch $353.40 billion

            • India's forex reserves touch $353.40 billion
              India's foreign exchange reserves went up by $2.54 billion to $353.40 billion on March 11, the RBI's weekly statistical statement showed.
              According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the total reserves on March 11 stood at $353.40 billion, up from $350.86 billion on March 4, 2016.
              Out of the total forex, the foreign currency assets stood at $329.99 billion on March 11, up from $327.47 billion on March 4.
              As per the central bank's weekly bulletin, on March 11 India's gold reserves stood at $19.32 billion; special drawing rights (SDR) at $1.48 billion and the reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was at $2.59 billion.

            General Awareness

            Maharashtra State Budget 2016-17 Unveiled

              • The Devendra Fadnavis Government presented its State Budget for the year 2016-17. The State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar presented the budget with an estimated revenue deficit of Rs 3,644 crore.
                Maharashtra Budget
                KEY HIGHLIGHTS
                • The general VAT rate from 5 to 5.5 per cent in the State budget.
                Vehicle Tax structure
                • For two- and three-wheeler vehicles for personal use, vehicles up to 99 cc will be taxed at 8 per cent
                • For vehicles from 100 cc to 299 cc the rate will be 9 per cent and for 300 cc and above the rate will be 10 per cent
                • Company-owned vehicles will be taxed at double rate which means the applicable tax will range between 16 per cent and 20 per cent
                Profession Tax:
                • The eligible taxpayers who have not paid profession tax in the preceding eight years will be held liable to pay taxes
                • The tax proposals will result in additional revenue of 363 crore for the State exchequer.
                Farm Sector
                • The State budget has made an outlay of Rs. 25,000 crorefor the agriculture sector and various schemes related to farmers
                • The relief package of over 3,000 crore has also been made available to the stressed farmers of the State.
                Sugar mills
                • An outlay of 3,360.35 crore has been made for the year 2016-17
                • As sugar industry in Maharashtra is facing difficulties, the Finance Minister has exempted sugar mills from paying Sugarcane Purchase Tax for 2015-16
                Cow protection
                • Govardhan Govansh Raksha Kendra (Cow lineage protection centres) will be established in 34 rural districts for rearing of non-lactating and unproductive cattle breed with the participation of experienced NGO.
                • 1 crore will be provided for the project.
                • An outlay of 34 crore is proposed for Govardhan Govansh Raksha Kendra

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