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Current Affairs - 03 May 2017

General Affairs 

Mutilated Soldier's Cremation On Hold, Family Asks For Yogi Adityanath
  • At a village in Uttar Pradesh's Deoria, the cremation of Prem Sagar - the murdered and mutilated Border Security Force man whose daughter wanted "50 heads for his sacrifice" - is yet to happen. The family wants Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to come to the village and see the body. The villagers second the demand. The authorities say they hope that the deadlock will be resolved shortly.

    Mr Sagar's son says the last rites of his father won't be conducted till the Chief Minister comes.

    Mr Sagar and army jawan Paramjit Singh were part of a three-member team that had gone to the spot on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir to check on a snapped communication line. Their mutilated bodies were recovered around 8.30 in the morning. Top sources said they could have been decoyed there and there is a possibility that the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba could have been involved in the attack, with the backing of Pakistani army. 

    The sarpanch of the village, Rajinder Singh, told ANI that the people were "angry". "The government should take revenge, otherwise soldiers will keep getting martyred," he said.

    In Punjab's Tarn Taran district, the cremation of Paramjit Singh too, was held up for a while earlier today, as the family refused to believe he was dead. Whose body is this? It is all behind (concealed in) this box" they said, pointing to the coffin draped with the national flag. "We are not being shown the body? Why?" they questioned.

    When the soldier's wife, Paramjit Kaur, insisted on a last look, she was distraught at the sight of the headless body. "I am proud of my husband but it is very painful to see the state of his body," she wailed.

    Demands for retribution have come from all quarters. The opposition parties have urged the government to punish Pakistan, which has denied India's allegations.

    The army has issued a warning, saying "such despicable act will be appropriately responded". Hinting at strong action which goes over and above counter-fire at the Line of Control, Union Minister Arun Jaitley has said, "Such acts are unheard of even during war...The sacrifice of these soldiers will not go in vain... the army will respond appropriately." Last year, after the huge terror strike at Uri, the army had launched surgical strikes on terror bases across the Line of Control.

PM Modi Takes Stock Of GST Readiness, Steps To Check Black Money
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took stock of the steps taken by the finance ministry for a smooth rollout of GST and anti-black money drive post note ban, among others.

    Various issues including preparedness for GST - billed as the biggest tax reform since Independence -- were discussed during the meeting with the revenue department, sources said.

    The government intends to implement the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1.

    According to sources, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, along with Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and other senior revenue officials, were present.

    It is understood that the meeting also discussed disclosures made in the tax amnesty scheme announced after the junking of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in November last year. It also reviewed progress made in the anti-black money drive, called Operation Clean Money, and the tax amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

    The revenue department is also believed to have given a report card on not just the black money disclosed and tax collected thereof, but the ill-gotten wealth seized during searches and raids across the country.

    Given the focus of the government on black money, it is believed that measures being planned by the tax department against tax evaders also came up during the meet.

    Tax, penalty and surcharge collected via the tax amnesty scheme floated after demonetisation aggregated Rs. 2,300 crore.

    The scheme, PMGKY, provided for payment of 50 per cent tax and penalty on unaccounted cash deposited in bank accounts.
    Under the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) - the first domestic black money disclosure programme last year - Rs. 12,700 crore tax have been collected.

    As for GST, the GST Council, headed by Jaitley and comprising his state counterparts, has held 13 meetings and decided on the four-tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent.

    The crucial fitment of goods and services in the tax brackets is yet to be decided. The council will meet on May 18-19 and work out on the fitment part.

Aadhaar Can Be Made Mandatory Under The Law, Centre Tells Supreme Court
  • The government has the power to make Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identification number, mandatory for PAN cards under the law passed by Parliament last year, the Centre's top law officer Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

    "The idea behind Aadhaar is to make a secure and robust system by which the identity of a person cannot be faked," Attorney General Rohatgi told the top court that is hearing three petitions challenging a change in the Income Tax law during parliament's Budget session. The hearing would resume tomorrow.

    This provision mandated that people filing income tax returns would have to give their Aadhaar number too. Also, people who do not link their PAN card to their Aadhaar number would risk losing their PAN card. On Tuesday, the petitioners argued that this provision was unconstitutional and in "direct collision" with the Aadhaar Act.

    Attorney General Rohatgi said the petitioners were under the impression that Aadhaar is voluntary under the law. "It is not voluntary as they say. The language is different," he said.

    The top law officer's assertion puts an end to a nuanced distinction that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that issues the Aadhaar number had tried to make for nearly a year: that people were required to get an Aadhaar for, say to get food for children, but the food would not be denied to those who don't have the number.

    Pitching Aadhaar as a tool to prevent identity fraud, the Centre also told a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that Aadhaar was part of more robust system of identity with finger prints and iris. There hadn't been a single instance of an Aadhaar identity being duplicated in contrast to 10 lakh PAN cards that had to cancelled.

    The government has also been dismissive of privacy concerns, insisting that the data is encrypted and stored in the database within the country. But it hasn't acted against departments that have put out around 130 million Aadhaar numbers in public domain for the last few months.

Mobile Tower Radiation Has No Adverse Impact On Human Health: Minister Manoj Sinha
  • Allaying fears about mobile tower radiation, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha on Tuesday said India has 10 times stricter norms than global standards and observed that more towers are needed to have better connectivity.

    "We always talk about no call drops, but we do not want towers near our house," the minister said, while addressing the launch function of web portal Tarang Sanchar by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

    The portal is meant for information sharing on mobile towers and electro-magnetic field (EMF) emission compliances.

    The minister said when people are ignorant about things they tend to spread rumours. To have better connectivity, more infrastructure will be required, he pointed out.

    "Radiation has no adverse impact on human health. During the last 30 years, the World Health Organisation has conducted some 25,000 campaigns on this subject and never stated that mobile tower radiation has adverse impact on human health," he said.

    Mr Sinha said the launch of Tarang Sanchar portal will definitely help in clearing myths and misconceptions in public minds on mobile towers and EMF emissions from them.

    He said the portal will allow any common person to know about towers in a particular locality and whether they are compliant to EMF emission norms defined by the government.

    Detailed information about any tower site, if requested, will be sent on email to the users, the minister said.

    Additionally, any person can request for EMF emission measurement at a location by paying a nominal fee of Rs. 4,000 online. The tests will be conducted by the local Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) field unit of DoT and the test report will be provided to the applicant.

Centre, HAL Directed To Compensate Wing Commander Sanjeet Singh Kaila For MiG-21 Crash
  • The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and HAL to pay a total of Rs. 55 lakh compensation to a serving IAF officer rendered unfit for flying after a MiG-21 crash in 2005.

    A division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Deepa Sharma said the armed forces cannot be put to "more risk than they had bargained for" and directed the Centre to pay Rs. 5 lakh and the aircraft manufacturer Rs. 50 lakh.

    In 2013, Sanjeet Singh Kaila, a serving Wing Commander, moved the High Court to seek direction to the government and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) to issue a formal apology for alleged manufacturing defect and faulty workmanship of the MiG-21 fighter jet that led to its crash.

    The court held that putting officers of the armed forces into more than expected "normal risk" is against the fundamental right to life, especially the right to work in a safe environment guaranteed under the Constitution.

    HAL is liable to compensate the officer for "exposing him to more than a reasonable risk", said the bench.

    Mr Kaila said a reply procured under the Right To Information Act on a Court of Inquiry finding revealed that the accident was caused due to poor workmanship and manufacturing defect in the aircraft.

    He submitted that the intent behind filing the petition was to ensure that "HAL is made accountable and aware of the ramifications of their actions, impacting the security of this country".

    Mr Kaila said he was posted at the Indian Air Force Station at Nal in Rajasthan as a Squadron Leader in 2005. On January 4 that year, he embarked on a regular flight sortie along with three other pilots.

    "Immediately after take-off, the petitioner experienced a drift to the left side of the aircraft. Simultaneously, the petitioner was informed by a pilot flying the second aircraft about a fire at the jet's rear end. Assessing the emergency, the petitioner promptly carried out all essential directives and lowered the landing gear of the aircraft for a landing," his petition said.

    "The petitioner performed all aforementioned actions despite the aircraft's rear end engulfed in fire. Despite a near-complete engine/control failure and at grave risk to his own life, the petitioner continued to stay put in an almost uncontrollable aircraft so as to steer it away to safety from a nearby village... to save human life, the petitioner ejected only seconds before the crash," his plea said.

Business Affairs 

In a first, Madhya Pradesh changes financial year to January-December from 2018
  • For the first time in the country Madhya Pradesh will soon move to January-December financial year from the present April to March fiscal. Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday announced shifting of its financial year format to January-December.
    The decision to change the state's financial year was taken by the state cabinet.
    State's decision to change the financial year comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a pitch for shifting the fiscal year to January-December period during NITI Aayog's governing council meet in the national capital recently.
    "The state cabinet in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today decided to shift the fiscal year January to December. So, now the budget session of the next FY would be held in December-January," state Public Relations Minister Narottam Mishra told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
    When asked about the ongoing fiscal 2017-18, the minister said that the state government would try to finish the current budget proceedings by December this year.
    "We would try to finish the current fiscal by December this year. So the next budget would either be presented in December this year or January next year," he added.
    Addressing the states during NITI Aayog governing council meeting on April 23, Modi had said, "In a country where agricultural income is exceedingly important, budgets should be prepared immediately after the receipt of agricultural incomes for the year".
    He had said there have been suggestions to shift the financial year from January to December.
    Changing the financial year format to January-December would mean shifting the tax assessment year, changes in infrastructure, specially at the company level.

RERA comes into effect: 5 ways it will change the real estate sector
  • Until now, homebuyers in India faced perennial problems of delay in delivery of projects, paying charge for space outside the four walls, major maintenance expense soon after purchase and a list of other issues. The new Real Estate Regulation & Development Act, 2016 (RERA) is expected to address many of these concerns that leave homebuyers frustrated and make builders more accountable. Consumer confidence could get a boost and help revive the real estate sector with the implementation of the real estate law from May 1. Builders and real estate agents are also likely to be more watchful as the new laws assure buyers of timely delivery of projects.
    Here's how the real estate sector could change with the implementation of RERA:
    Revive demand
    RERA will bring a breath of clean air in the sector if state governments implement the Centre's policy as it is. Buyers often have a web of questions when it comes to buying dream homes. RERA promises to end that anxiety. All relevant information will be parked with the regulator and, hopefully, made available to potential buyers. It will also set timelines for projects, which means that the endless wait before moving in will soon be passed. But a large section of developers feels, and rightly so, that projects are not always delayed at their end. The red-tapism in government offices also affects delivery time. But the move will ultimately boost buyers' confidence and bring buoyancy back in the sector.
    'Impact ongoing projects'
    The two apex bodies of real estate developers-CREDAI and NAREDCO-feel that the implementation of this law will bring paradigm change in the way Indian real estate sector functions. "It's a paradigm change in the real estate sector. It will protect buyers who have purchased flats in the past. The regulator under the RERA should find ways to help complete ongoing projects and provide relief to home buyers," NAREDCO Chairman Rajeev Talwar said.

    Initial problems
    RERA will increase transparency in the real estate sector and boost confidence of both domestic and foreign investors but there can some problem initially in implementation of this law.  Some experts believe supply could dip during the year as real estate developers come to terms with the law but demand will improve as buyers will have increased confidence to invest in property market. Prices could also remain stable as the sector becomes more transparent.

    Buyer's can't be taken for ride
    Unscrupulous smaller builders or even larger organised developers will not be able to take buyers for a ride anymore. The buyer will pay only for the carpet area (area within walls). The builder can't charge for the super built-up area, as is the practice at present, where you get 900-1,000 sq. ft. carpet area if you book a 1,300 sq. ft. house (the rest is balconies and common spaces). The new law is expected to stop this practice.
    Investor confidence will return
    Anshuman Magazine, Chairman, India and South East Asia, CBRE, said, "In the long run, we feel that the establishment of a regulator will prove beneficial for the sector. With investor confidence returning to the sector, resulting in greater institutional capital inflows in the long term, we can expect to see the segment in revival mode."
    However, he said the developers may be cautious initially about announcing new launches till they get a proper understanding of RERA's various components. According to Tata Housing's Head of Marketing Services, Rajeeb Dash, unorganised or small developers will find it difficult to manage their businesses after the implementation of RERA.

Fitch keeps India's sovereign rating unchanged at BBB- with stable outlook
  • Global rating agency Fitch Ratings on Tuesday kept India's sovereign rating unchanged at 'BBB-' -- the lowest investment grade -- with a stable outlook, citing a "weak fiscal position and difficult business environment".
    The government and some commentators in India have been pitching hard for a rating upgrade by Fitch and other agencies, saying the country's strong economic fundamentals, political stability and a slew of reforms need to be better reflected in the rating assigned to it.
    "The sovereign ratings at BBB- balance a strong medium- term growth outlook and favourable external balances with a weak fiscal position and difficult business environment," Fitch said in a note today.
    "However, the business environment is likely to gradually improve with the implementation and continued broadening of the structural reform agenda," Fitch said.
    The government has been consistently rolling out its ambitious reform agenda for almost three years and remains committed to continued reforms, it added.
    "The impact of the reform programme on investment and real GDP growth will depend on how it is implemented and the extent to which government continues its strong drive to improve the still-weak business environment," the agency said.
    The agency forecasts real GDP growth to accelerate to 7.7 per cent in fiscals 2017 and 2018, from 7.1 per cent in fiscal 2016.
    It expects structural reforms to increase growth, along with higher real disposable income supported by implementation of the seventh pay commission recommendations and an average monsoon.
    Fitch said the stable outlook reflects the assessment that upside and downside risks to the ratings are broadly balanced.
    Eminent banker Deepak Parekh has wondered how a country with such "strong fundamentals" on both economic and political fronts can be rated so low.
    India continues to be rated 'BBB-' -- just a notch above the junk grade and lowest among investment grade ratings -- by most of the global credit rating agencies despite the government pitching hard for an upgrade on the basis of several reforms initiated over the last few years.

    Indian officials in London to push Mallya's extradition
    • A team of officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have reached London for discussions on the extradition of former liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
      A four-member team led by CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana will apprise British authorities about the finer points of the loan default cases against Mallya, CBI sources said.
      Two senior ED officials are also part of the team, they said.
      Mallya's extradition is now before the British court where neither the CBI nor the ED are direct parties. Indian agencies primarily aid and assist British prosecutors with case material to counter the plea of absconders before the courts, an official explained.
      The agencies' move to send a team to London is aimed at presenting a strong case for the extradition of the flamboyant business tycoon before the court.
      The 61-year-old was arrested by British authorities last month on India's extradition request in connection with a Rs 900 crore loan default case of IDBI Bank being probed by the CBI.
      He was released on bail within hours by a London court which has fixed May 17 as the next date of hearing.
      Mallya, whose now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes more than INR 9,000 crore (including interest) to various banks, had fled India on March 2, 2016.
      The CBI has two cases against him -- one related to the IDBI Bank case and the other related to a loan default of over INR 6,000 crore filed on the basis of a complaint from a State Bank of India led consortium.
      The extradition process from the UK involves a number of steps including a decision by the judge on whether or not to issue a warrant of arrest.
      In case of a warrant, the person is arrested and brought before the court for preliminary hearing followed by an extradition hearing before a final decision is taken by the secretary of state.
      The 'wanted' person has the right to appeal to higher courts against any decision all the way up to the Supreme Court.
      Under the law, the British secretary of state may only consider four issues when deciding whether to order a person's extradition -- whether the person is at risk of the death penalty, whether special arrangements are in place, whether the person concerned has previously been extradited from another country to the UK and the consent of that country to his onward extradition is required and whether the person has previously been transferred to the UK by the International Criminal Court.

    Amid tariff war after Jio's entry in telecom sector, Tata Teleservices fires 500-600 employees
    • Tata Teleservices has fired between 500 and 600 employees to tide over difficult times in the hyper-competitive telecom market.
      As many as 500-600 employees have been impacted by the lay offs in sales and other related functions, two people familiar with the matter said.
      The lay-offs are across locations, they said, adding that the severance package being offered to the employees impacted by the decision is one month's salary for every year of service.
      An e-mail sent to Tata Teleservices did not elicit a response.
      Sources in the company said that these are challenging times for the telecom industry.
      "What most of the operators including Tata Telservices are doing is workforce rationalisation, to stay competitive in line with the needs of the market," they added.
      The lay-offs comes at a time when the telecom industry has been witnessing an intense tariff war triggered by the entry of Reliance Jio, whose disruptive positioning in the market has left most of the telcos bleeding.
      The telecom operators are facing tremendous pressure on revenue and profitability even as the industry's debt has soared to nearly Rs 4.6 lakh crore.
      Tata Teleservices spearheads Tata Group s presence in the Indian telecom market. The company, along with the listed arm Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd has presence in 19 telecom circles in the the country.
      It offers integrated telecom solutions to its customers across wireline and wireless networks on platforms like GSM, CDMA and 3G.
      As per the data of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Tata's mobile subscriber base stood at 51.2 million as on February 28, 2017. The company has nearly 4.4 per cent market share in the country's total mobile subscriber base of more than 1.16 billion.

    General Awareness

    Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas celebrated on May 02, 2017

    • May 2, 2017 was observed as Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas by National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG) at twelve locations: Kanpur, Bithoor, Allahabad, Devprayag, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, Kolkata, Raj Ghat (Hardoi), Sahibganj, Srinagar (Uttarakhand), and Vidhur Kuti (Bijnor). Ganga Vichaar Manch and local NGOs organised the event at 30 more locations.
      • Ms. Uma Bharti – Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation attended the events at Vidhur Kuti, Srinagar and Devprayag. Events at other locations were presided over by Central and State level dignitaries and senior officials from Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and NMCG.
      Background Information:
      From March 16, 2017 to March 31, 2017, NMCG observed ‘Ganga Swachhta Pakhwada’ in five Ganga Basin States. This programme was a huge success as there was huge mass participation and active involvement from various stakeholders. Owing to such overwhelming response and in order to sustain the momentum for this cause, NMCG decided to organise ‘Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas’ on May 2, 2017.
      Objectives of Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas:
      • To spread awareness and evoke active involvement of the masses through GangaSwachhta Sankalp (Pledge).
      • Reiterating citizens’ commitment toClean Ganga through a series of events like Swachhta sandesh rally, Shram daan and
      • To develop a sense of pride and ownership among citizens and garner their support for Namami Gange programme.
      Ganga Cleanliness Resolution Day observed in UP on May 2, 2017
      On May 2, 2017, Ganga Cleanliness Resolution Day was observed in 15 cities 985 villages situated on the banks of river Ganga.
      • In order to ensure success, district magistrates and senior officials in the state were duly instructed by Rahul Bhatnagar – Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary.
      • In order to seek mass participation, rallies, nukkad nataks and cultural programmes were organised.

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