Current Affairs Current Affairs - 28 January 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 28 January 2017

General Affairs 

Government To Roll Out Aadhaar Pay For Cashless Transactions
  • Government will soon roll out Aadhaar Pay service that will enable people to make and receive payments using their Aadhaar number and biometrics.

    "We are going to start Aadhaar Pay. With this people will not require to carry their phone for payments. They can visit any merchant, share their Aadhaar number and verify themselves using biometrics to pay and receive money," Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.

    As of now, 14 banks have come on board for Aadhaar Pay and the service will be launched soon, Mr Prasad told reporters.

    "We are in talks with other banks too. The service will be launched very soon," he informed.

    According to sources, some banks have already developed their application and testing it in Andhra Pradesh.

    Further, the Minister said, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), the common platform for making quick payments using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), has also been integrated with Aadhaar Enabled Payment System on Thursday.

    Over 111 crore people in the country now have Aadhaar numbers. The minister said that people often raise concern over privacy breach but the Aadhaar Act completely respects privacy of people.

    "We all know the Aadhaar was started by previous government but at that time it was only a digital identity of citizen of India. Under the government led by Narendra Modi, due to various initiative taken, it has become powerful tool of financial and future transformation," Mr Prasad said.

    Aadhaar generation as on May 31, 2014 was 63.22 crore with per day enrolment or update trend of about 3-4 lakh which remained around 5-6 lakh per day till October 2016.

    However, since demonetisation, the Aadhaar enrolment and update requests are in the range of 7-8 lakhs per day, as per an official statement.

    "There are 49 crore bank accounts linked to Aadhaar. Every month 2 crore accounts are being seeded with Aadhaar," Mr Prasad said.

    The minister said that Aadhaar Pay Enabled System is already in works and 33 crore transactions have been made on it in rural India.

    Post demonetisation till January 15 over 8.39 crore AEPS transactions have happened in the field. Of this, over 3.73 crore transactions took place in December 2016 and 2.06 crore transactions in first 15 days of January 2017. Earlier AEPS transactions were about 2.57 crore and 2.69 crore in October and November 2016, respectively.

    Mr Prasad said that use of Aadhaar for transaction has led to saving of Rs. 36,144 crore in fiscal year 2014-15 and 2015-16.

    Naxalism Is Nearing Its End In Chhattisgarh, Says Governor
    • Chhattisgarh Governor Balramji Das Tandon today said a wave of security and development coupled with the faith of people in Bastar region signals that naxalism will come to an end soon in the state.

      Tandon was speaking at the 68th Republic Day function held at the police line grounds here.

      "There is a wave of security and development with initiatives like education city, lifeline express, operation facility in hospitals and many others, along with faith (of people) in Bastar which has raised hope that the end of naxalism is near in the state," the Governor said in his address.

      "I salute our brave jawans of army and security forces who are keeping our borders and unity and integrity of the country safe..," he said.

      Hailing the demonetisation move, the Governor said, Chhattisgarh has successfully implemented this (scrapping the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes) revolutionary and historical idea.

      The way people of the state, bank employees, industrialists and government functionaries have rendered their responsibilities in a committed spirit, it is highly appreciable.

      The process (of demonetisation) has not only supported the country in fight against terror forces but also helped in controlling Maoist activities in Chhattisgarh, he said.

      He also appreciated the steps being taken by the state government to encourage cashless transactions and said, "Just within a span of one month, atleast 16 lakh people were made literate on digital transaction in the state and made members of Digital Army (to propagate the idea of cashless society) .

      The Governor further said, I am happy that more than 9300 villages, over 5300 village panchayats and 41 development blocks have been declared open defecation free (ODF) under 'Swachh Bharat Mission'.

      We will achieve the target of becoming an ODF state by October 2, 2018 a year ahead of the national target (which 2 October 2019).

      He also appealed to the people to contribute for this noble cause. Public amenities and infrastructure development are those elements of development which make easier the life of thousands-lakhs people, he said.

      Over 10,000 kms new roads and more than 1300 kms new rail line besides information technology network, establishment of common service centre, online services in the state will benefit people in a broad way, he said.

    Never Again, Says Shiv Sena On Alliance With BJP, 'Fight Begins Now'
    • The Shiv Sena, which rules Maharashtra along with the BJP, has ruled out all alliances with the party in future. The current alliance will stay, but the two parties will compete in the elections for the Mumbai civic body BMC, the country's richest municipal organisation, party chief Uddhav Thackeray said today. Soon after, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, saying, "Power is the means for change not the eventual goal. change will happen. It will happen with you or without you."

      The Sena's comment came a day after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's name was announced in the Padma awards lists. Mr Pawar has received Padma Vibhushan -- the second highest civilian honour in the country after the Bharat Ratna.

      Sena sources said the party is reading it as a sign of the growing proximity of the BJP and the NCP ahead of the civic elections. The NCP, which was an ally of Congress, had split ahead of the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections.  

      Without naming Mr Pawar, Mr Thackeray, in his address to party workers today, said, "One of the Padma awards was probably 'gurudakshina' (a gift for a teacher)... today the nation wants to know not what I have to say, but what the Shiv Sena has to say (to it)".

      Asked about the possibility of a tie-up the BJP, Mr Pawar said, "I will think about it if they come to ask for help to save the government."

      The Shiv Sena, which broke off its alliance with the BJP ahead of the Maharashtra elections, formed the government with it after the results were announced. But since then, it has been seen as a proxy opposition to the BJP -- both at the Centre and the state. Mr Thackeray and various leaders of his party had taken every opportunity to criticise the Narendra Modi government - from its handling of demonetisation to its Pakistan policy and handling of floods and droughts in the country.

      The run-up to the civic body elections had witnessed bitter bargaining over seat division between the two parties.

      Recently, after Mr Fadnavis had said that a pre-poll alliance was possible only if the Sena acknowledged the BJP's growing clout in region, Mr Thackeray had hinted that the Sena would not mind going it alone.

    10 Soldiers Killed As Avalanches Hit Army Post And Patrol In Kashmir's Gurez
    • Ten soldiers have been killed in Kashmir as avalanches hit a military post and a patrol along the Line of Control or de facto border between India and Pakistan. Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said a massive overnight avalanche buried a military post manned by 10 soldiers in the Gurez sector. He said despite hostile weather, rescue operations were launched and an officer and six soldiers were rescued from the buried post. The bodies of three soldiers were recovered.

      The Colonel said another avalanche swept away an army patrol in the same area. Seven bodies have been recovered so far.

      The army did not give the exact number of people in the patrol and said rescuers were searching for other missing soldiers.

      "The area continues to receive heavy snowfall, but our coordinated rescue operations are in progress," Colonel Kalia said.

      Kashmir has seen heavy snow this week and authorities have warned of the "high danger" of avalanches over the next two days.

      Power and communication lines have also been cut in some areas.

      Officials evacuated dozens of residents from high-risk areas after authorities issued avalanche warning in many parts of the region, especially along the Line of Control.

      On Wednesday, four members of a family and an army officer were killed when they were buried by two separate avalanches.

      In 2012, a massive avalanche in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir killed 140 people.

    Republic Day 2017: NSG Commandos Steal The Show At Parade In Delhi's Rajpath
    • A contingent of India's elite National Security Guard (NSG) marched down Delhi's Rajpath for the first time as part of the Republic Day parade today.

      Around 60 commandos in black marched in the parade and gave a ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee. They had their balaclava headgear, special assault rifles and iconic commando daggers.

      The other commandos were on seven vehicles with hydraulic ladders.
      The Army's Special Forces are the only commando force to take part in the Republic Day parade.

      NSG's anti-hijacking van "'Sherpa" also debuted in the parade. Sherpa is a bullet proof armoured vehicle that can survive powerful explosions and can be driven under water and on steep inclines.

      The NSG, a special force under the Union Home Ministry often referred to as Black Cats, was raised in 1984 after the assassination of Indira Gandhi "for combating terror to protect states against internal disturbances."

      Till now, the NSG's presence in the Republic Day celebrations was confined to security around the parade route.

      The parade was led by a 149-member UAE contingent and marching band. 
      In another first, the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft made its debut.

      The colourful Border Security Force Camel regiment, which has never missed a single parade, was a visual treat for viewers.

      The Navy march by 144 young sailors was led by a woman officer, Lieutenant Aparna Nair.

      The parade began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to soldiers at Amar Jawan Jyoti in India Gate.

      A spectacular fly-past by the Indian Air Force, which had everyone squinting up at the sky, marked the end of the Republic Day parade.

    Business Affairs 

      Budget '17 taxes: If this, then that!
      • All that finance minister Arun Jaitley will have to do in taxation in a chain of actions triggered by one another…
        If this, then that… 
        • If corporate tax rate will be slashed, personal tax rate cuts will follow
        • If personal tax rates are reduced, poor will be offered sops via UBI
        • If UBI is implemented, tax rates on services will rise sharply
        • If service tax rates are high, expect little from indirect taxes/GST.

        Here's why…
        The finance minister has a commitment to reduce the base rate of corporate tax from 30 pc (actually, with cesses and surcharges it comes to nearly 34 pc) to 25 pc by 2018-19. If Arun Jaitley is true to his words, at least a part of this has to be reduced in Budget '17-18 since a 5 pc reduction in the final year will create havoc with the kitty and is highly unlikely. Hence, analysts are convinced corporate tax rate will be cut to either 28 or (more optimistically) 27 pc this Budget. Remember, UK has brought down corporation tax to 20 pc and President Donald Trump has committed reducing it to 15 pc in his term.

        If India's corporate tax rate goes down to 28 or 27 pc, personal tax at 30 pc will become untenable. Well, who would like to give the opposition another chance to take the "Suit-Boot ki Sarkar" jibe at the government yet again! So, the highest slab of personal tax rate will also need to be cut down to 28 or 27 pc, proportionately. This may be supported by raising the band for lowest tax rate from 2.50 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. And, if the finance minister is really  generous, perhaps, bringing back the standard deduction of Rs 20,000 or so.
        But then personal tax sops only benefit the salaried class/middle class, after all. What about the poor? Hence, if personal tax is sliced, then expect sops for the poor as well. Think of what could be the master-stroke this Budget to win over the electorate in the 5 states going to poll right after the Budget! The answer lies in Universal Basic Income (UBI), a concept borrowed from the West's social security initiatives.
        Each unemployed adult to be transferred Rs 1,500 per month directly into the bank account via Aadhaar as basic monthly income for survival. For the estimated 200 million potential beneficiaries, the UBI likely to cost the exchequer nearly Rs 3 lakh crore. That's not that kind of money the government has in hand.
        In fact, it's 30 pc higher than the Rs 2.30 lakh crore the government spends on subsidies. Hence, schemes such as MGNREGA, among others, are expected to be folded into the UBI. The scheme may not cover the entire 200 million in the first few years. Rather, the government may target only the bottom of the pyramid among the below poverty line (BPL) in the initial phase.
        Now, if the government will take a hit on corporate tax and personal income tax besides spending more on welfare measures such as the UBI, it will need to scoop the money from somewhere. While some of that need will be covered by the annual 8-9 pc growth in direct taxes and 15-16 pc growth in indirect taxes, but for the rest the government will rely heavily on the bonanza coming from Service Tax. 

      Sensex surges over 150 pts, Nifty50 touches crucial 8,650-level
      • The Indian markets rallied in morning trade tracking global markets after Dow Jones closed above its fresh lifetime high of 20,000-mark for the second day straight. 
        The benchmark indices maintained its positive form for the fourth day as the February derivatives series took off on a strong footing amid positive Asian cues.
        At 9.50 AM, the S&P BSE Sensex was trading 27,861, up 153.25 points while the broader Nifty reclaimed is 8,650 in early trade and was trading at 8,645, up 42.85 points.
        "For the coming session, 8560 - 8500 would now be seen as a strong support zone; whereas on the higher side, a move towards 8678 - 8737 is clearly visible now," said an Angel Broking report.
        "It's quite possible that we may see profit booking or breather in coming days, but traders shouldn't expect any major reversal soon. The trend is quite strong and one should look to ride this tide," added the report. 
        The market was shut yesterday for the Republic Day.
        Brokers said investors were busy creating new positions following the beginning of the February futures and options (F&O) series that led to the rally in the market.
        Moreover, data showing that foreign as well as domestic institutional investors made sizeable buying on Wednesday buoyed sentiment.
        Axis Bank, GAIL and ONGC were leading the market gains on Friday.
        Global markets
        Among Asian shares Japan's Nikkei rose 0.3 per cent on Friday.
        However, South Korean markets will remain closed for holidays on Friday and Monday while Chinese markets are shut for the Lunar New Year holiday and will resume trade on Friday, February 3. Taiwan is also closed for Lunar New Year and will reopen on Thursday, February 2.
        Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%, remaining above the 20,000 level topped on Wednesday.
        The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs during the session but inched back down to close little changed after two days of strong gains.

      HDFC Bank to deploy around 20 humanoids in 2 years at branches
      • Country's second biggest private sector lender HDFC Bank is planning to install up to 20 humanoids at its branches in the two years to assist customers.
        "We will be setting up 15-20 humanoids in the next 18 to 24 months," HDFC Bank's head of digital banking Nitin Chugh told reporters after launching its first humanoid, named 'Ira', at a branch near its headquarters here.
        Ira helps the welcome desk by giving directions to customers. Chugh said there was a high possibility of using it for various other jobs including transactions.
        The bank is working on artificial intelligence and voice recognition technologies which, when coupled with connectivity with its core banking software which will be done eventually, will open up many new possibilities, he said.
        Chugh said the bank will be analysing customer requirements at the branch and incorporate various other services accordingly.
        Newer humanoids to be deployed at other locations may not be replicas of Ira, he said, adding the development of humanoid by the bank itself makes this possible.
        When asked about the need to have such a gadget at a time when there are enough signages to guide a customer, Chugh said the bank is not concentrating on the optics alone but the potential which it holds drove it to invest in it.
        Small-time private sector lender City Union Bank was the first among Indian banks to introduce its robot last year.
        HDFC Bank, which saw its employee count fall by over 4,500 in the December quarter alone due to efficiency improvements and attritions, does not see any job losses because of the humanoid, Chugh said, reiterating that it is aimed only to assist customers.
        The Kochi-based Asimov Robotics, which has developed Ira, has got queries from airports, hospitality industry and retail chains to deploy similar humanoids, its chief executive Jayakrishnan T told reporters.

      India ranked 79th in the Corruption Perception Index 2016
      • India has been ranked 79th among 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index 2016 released by the Transparency International organisation. Its score marginally improved from 38 in 2015 to 40 in 2016. India had a score of 36 in 2012. 
        The organisation has used the World Bank data, the world economic forum and other institutions to rank countries by perceived levels of corruption in public sector. The score runs from zero to 100, from highly corrupt to 100. Belarus, Brazil, & China shared the same ranks as India.
        The list was topped by New Zealand and Denmark with a score of 90 each. Higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems.
        Somalia was ranked the most corrupt country with a score of 10. Other countries with lower rankings were South Sudan, North Korea, Syria, and Yemen. The lower-ranked countries in the index were plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary.

      GAAR from April 1; to be invoked in fair, rational manner: CBDT
      • Seeking to assuage investor concerns ahead of implementation of GAAR from April 1, the Tax Department on Friday said the provisions of tax avoidance rules will not apply to a transaction that does not carry a tax benefit based on the jurisdiction it is routed through.
        It said adequate procedural safeguards are in place to ensure that General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR), which seek to prevent companies from routing transactions through other countries to avoid taxes, are invoked in "a uniform, fair and rational manner".
        GAAR, it said, will come into force from April 1 and can be invoked only through a two-stage process involving a nod at the level of principal commissioner of income tax and a panel headed by a high court judge.
        The new rules give tax authorities the right to scrutinise and tax transactions which they believe are structured solely to avoid taxes.
        But it "will not interplay with the right of the taxpayer to select or choose method of implementing a transaction", the Central Board of Direct Taxes said in clarifications on GAAR.
        GAAR provisions shall be effective from assessment year 2018-19 and "shall not be invoked merely on the ground that the entity is located in a tax efficient jurisdiction," it said. "If the jurisdiction of FPI is finalised based on non-tax commercial considerations and the main purpose of the arrangement is not to obtain tax benefit, GAAR will not apply."
        This essentially means that any transaction that carries a tax benefit could be questioned. The taxman may potentially want to know whether the transaction was done in the normal course of business or conducted simply with the intention to avoid taxes.
        India will be the 17th nation in the world to have laws that aim to close tax loopholes. Beginning with Australia in 1915, GAAR is in force in nations like Singapore, China and the UK.
        CBDT said the adoption of anti-abuse rules in tax treaties may not be sufficient to address all tax avoidance strategies and the same are required to be tackled through domestic anti-avoidance rules.
        "However, if a case of avoidance is sufficiently addressed by Limitation of Benefits (LoB) provisions in the tax treaty, there shall not be an occasion to invoke GAAR," it said.
        The proposal to apply GAAR will be vetted first by the Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of I-T and at the second stage by an Approving Panel headed by a judge of High Court.
        "The stakeholders have been assured that adequate procedural safeguards are in place to ensure that GAAR is invoked in a uniform, fair and rational manner," CBDT said, adding that the government is committed to providing certainty and clarity in tax rules.
        CBDT further said that if at the time of sanctioning an arrangement, the Court has explicitly and adequately considered the tax implications, GAAR will not apply to such an arrangement. It would also not apply if an arrangement is held as permissible by the Authority for Advance Rulings.
        "Further, it has been clarified that if an arrangement has been held to be permissible in one year by the PCIT/CIT/ Approving Panel and the facts and circumstances remain the same, GAAR will not be invoked for that arrangement in a subsequent year," CBDT said.
        The Tax Department also clarified that levy of penalty under GAAR would depend on "facts and circumstances of the case and is not automatic".
        Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in his Budget speech in 2015, deferred GAAR implementation by two years and also said that the investments made up to March 31, 2017 shall not be subjected to GAAR, which was to be applied on those claiming tax benefit of over Rs 3 crore.
        CBDT today clarified that Rs 3 crore limit of tax benefit calculation for each arrangement cannot be read with a single tax payer as GAAR is with respect to an entire arrangement that has been entered into.
        "One good thing is that CBDT has clarified that if LoB sufficiently addresses tax avoidance then GAAR will not apply.
        Most new treaties being signed are with LOB. Therefore foreign investors have clarity," Ashok Maheshwary and Associates LLP Partner Amit Maheshwari said.
        The exceptions carved out for Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) and investors in FIIs alleviated some concerns as the recent clarification gives a ray of hope to the FPI that GAAR shall apply only to abusive or highly aggressive/ contrived arrangements, said Nangia & Co Managing Partner Rakesh Nangia.
        Another positive thing is that court approved arrangements are outside the purview of GAAR, Maheshwari said, adding that FPIs would have sufficient clarity on taxation.
        In May last year, CBDT had started consultations with stakeholders asking them to give their views where they require clarity before GAAR is implemented.
        General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) was part of the 2012-13 Budget speech of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to check tax evasion and avoidance.
        However, its implementation was repeatedly postponed because of the apprehensions expressed by foreign investors.

      General Awareness

      Nation Celebrates 68th Republic Day on January 26, 2017
      • India celebrated its 68th Republic Day on January 26, 2017. The Theme of 2017 Republic Day is: Skill India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.Every year this day is celebrated on January 26, as it was on this day that the Constitution of India came into force in the year 1950.
        Important Highlights of Republic Day 2017
        Chief Guest
        Every year India invites a special state guest of honour to be the chief guest at the Republic Day ceremony. This year the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest at the ceremony.
        Republic Day Parade
        The Republic Day celebration started with flag hoisting ceremony, done by President Pranab Mukherjee, followed by a 21-gun salute and the Republic Day Parade from Rajpath. The Parade begins from Rajpath and concludes at the Red Fort in New Delhi.
        • The parade showcased India’s military strength, achievements and its diverse culture at the Rajpath.
        • The Republic Day Parade was commanded by Lt General Manoj Mukund Naravane, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area.
        UAE contingent in the parade
        For the first time in the history of Republic Day, a foreign contingent of 179 UAE Soldiers led the annual parade on Rajpath. A 35-member UAE strong band along with 144 soldiers, led by Brigadier Obaid Al-Zahumi, performed the marched past. In 2016, a French contingent had marched on Rajpath.
        NSG commandos in the Parade
        A contingent of National Security Guards, also known as the Black Cat commandos, took part in the parade for the first time. A contingent of 60 commandos dressed in their black overalls and full armed gear marched on the Rajpath, giving ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee.
        Other attractions of the Parade
        The marching contingents of Army included horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Mechanised Infantry Regiment, the Bihar Regiment, the 39 Gorkha Training Centre, 58 Gorkha Training Centre, the Madras Engineering Group and Centre and 103 Infantry Battalion.
        • The Indian Army showcased its missile firing capability T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2K, BrahMos Missile System, Weapon Locating Raddar ‘Swathi’ and Akash Weapons System. Besides, it also displayed India’s first indigenously-built 155 mm artillery gun, Dhanush.
        • The Indian Air Force (IAF) tableau was based on the theme “Air Dominance Through Network Centric Operations”. The tableau displayed the scaled down models of Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, AWACS, UAV, Apache and Communication Satellite.
        • The Navy contingent comprised 144 young sailors and it was led by Lieutenant Aparna Nair. The Indian Navy’s tableau showcased the indigenously built Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class next generation attack submarines, model of the P-8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
        • The paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included the Border Security Force Camel Contingent, Indian Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme.
        • The parade also showcased the heroic motor bike stunts of ‘Dare Devils’- the motorcycle display team of Corps of Military Police.
        • Tableaux from 17 states and Union Territories and six central ministries and departments showcased the varied historical, art and cultural heritage of the country.
        • 21 of the 25 children who won the National Bravery Award also participated in the parade. Four children have received the award posthumously. Besides, students from different zones also participated in the pararde
        • The main highlight of the parade was a spectacular fly-past by the Indian Air Force’s Mi-35 helicopters, indigenous combat light aircraft Tejas, Jaguars and Sukhois.
        Gallantry Awards to Navy on 26 January 2017
        As a part of the Republic Day celebration, President Pranab Mukherjee conferred 3 Gallantry awards on the Indian Navy. It included one Shaurya Chakra and two Nao Sena medals.
        1. Shaurya Chakra: Ashu Singh(posthumously)
        2. Nao Sena Medal: Rakesh Kumar(posthumously)
        3. Nao Sena Medal: LT CDR NEERAJ KUMAR
        Gallantry Awards to Air Force on 26 January 2017
        The Indian Air Force received 4 Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry).
        President Announced 398 Republic Day Gallantry and other Defence Decorations
        On the occasion of Republic Day, the President approved 398 Gallantry awards and other Defence decorations to Armed Forces personnel and others.
        • The 398 Gallantry award included 2 Kirti Chakras, 12 Shaurya Chakras, 3 Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), 91 Sena Medal (Gallantry), 2 Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry), 4 Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry), 29 Param Vishisht Seva Medal, 5 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, 2 Bar to Ati Vishisht  Seva Medal, 49 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal,  14 Yudh Seva Medal, 4 Bar to Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty), 36 Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty), 8 Nao Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty), 14 Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty), 4Bar to Vishisht Seva Medal and 119 Vishisht Seva Medal.
        • Besides these, the President also approved 7 awards to Indian Coast Guard Personnel for gallantry, meritorious service and distinguished service and 44 ‘Mention-in-Despatches’ were awarded to 44 personnel from Army
        • Among the special mentions of the awardees are Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Commander Lt Gen PM Hariz who were overlooked in the appointment of Army Chief were given the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM).
        • Colonel Kapil Yadav, Commanding Officer of 9 Para and Colonel Harpreet Sandhu, Commanding Officer of Para 4 of the Special Forces (SF), which had carried out the surgical strikes in September 2016 were honoured with the Yudh Sewa Medal (YSM).
        President Honors Havaldar Hangpan Dada with Ashok Chakra Posthumously
        President Pranab Mukherjee awarded the Ashok Chakra on January 26, 2017 to Havaldar Hangpan Dada posthumously for killing four terrorists who had infiltrated into north Kashmir in May 2016. The award was received by his wife Chasen Lowang at Rajpath.
        • Ashok Chakra is the country’s highest peacetime military decoration awarded for courageous action or self sacrifice by an army man from battle field.
        • Havildar Dada was from Boduria village in Arunachal Pradesh. He had been posted in north Kashmir since late 2015. He joined the Assam Regiment of the Indian Army in 1997 and was posted with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles.
        Dr. Mahesh Sharma Inaugurates ‘Bharat Parv’ at Red Fort, Delhi
        As part of the Republic Day 2017 Celebrations, the Government of India has organized Bharat Parv at the Red Fort, Delhi from January 26-31, 2017.
        • Bharat Parv is a National festival to showcase country’s diverse culture, cuisines, and handicrafts. Minister of State (Independent charge) for Tourism and Culture inaugurated the event.
        • Aim: To generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularise the idea of Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat.
        • The event would include display of the Republic Day Parade Tableaux, Performances by the Armed Forces Bands (static and moving), Multi-Cuisine Food Court having about 50 stalls, Crafts Mela, Cultural Performances from different regions of the country and a Photo Exhibition by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
        • The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has set up a Photo Exhibition on the theme “Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai, Aage Badh Raha Hai”.
        Delhi University Becomes India’s First Public University to get Monumental Flag
        The Hans Raj College of Delhi University hoisted the ‘monumental’ flag on January 25, 2017 on its campus on the occasion of the 68th Republic Day celebrations, making DU the first public university in the country to get a monumental flagpole.
          • The 100ft-tall flag was hoisted by Member of Parliament, Naveen Jindal, a Hans Raj alumnus and founder of the Flag Foundation of India (FFOI), a non profit firm to promote national flag.
          • This is the second monumental flag by FFOI in Delhi. The first monumental flag 207ft-tall was installed in Central Park, Connaught Place.
          • The decision to install the monumental flag in DU had come in the light of the controversy over the alleged shouting of anti-India slogans being raised at an event in JNU.
        In February 2016, all Central university vice-chancellors resolved to install the national flag “prominently and proudly” on their campuses during a meeting chaired by then HRD Minister Smriti Irani with an aim of “instilling nationalism and pride” in students.
        The Flag Foundation of India
        The Flag Foundation of India was set up as a registered society under the societies registration act of 1980, a non-profit body on 3rd June 2002.
        • It was set up after Hon’ble MP Mr. Naveen Jindal won a seven-year long court battle that enabled all Indians to display the National Flag with honour and pride at homes, offices and factories on all days of the year.
        • On 3rd June 2002, after a long and hard legal battle fought by Mr. Naveen Jindal, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the display of the national flag by every citizen on all days of the year, a fundamental right. Thereafter, he founded the Flag Foundation of India, a non-governmental organization.
        Burj Khalifa in Dubai Lits up in Tricolor
        The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, UAE was lit up on January 25, 2017 in tricolours saffron, white and green marking the 68th Republic Day of India.
        • The iconic building is 823 metres high and was named in honour of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
        • The gesture showcases the strong cultural and trade ties between India and UAE
        History of Republic Day
        Republic Day is celebrated to honour the day on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935).
        • On 28 August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr B R Ambedkar as chairman. The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949.
        • January 26 has been chosen as the Republic Day because it was on this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress.
        • Besides, the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad also took oath on January 26, 1950.

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