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Current Affairs - 19 June 2017

General Affairs 

Presidential election 2017: Amit Shah meets Uddhav Thackeray to discuss NDA's candidate
  • BJP president Amit Shah along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra, and held a close-door meeting.
    The meeting, which started at around 10 am and lasted for nearly 75 minutes, comes a day after the BJP chief said his party would consult its allies before finalising the NDA's presidential candidate.
    Amit Shah is on a three-day visit to Mumbai to strengthen the party organisation in the state.
    Shiv Sena, which has often been critical of the BJP and the Modi government, recently suggested the name of MS Swaminathan, the father of India's Green Revolution, as its presidential choice.
    The Shiv Sena had earlier said it may choose an "independent" path in the election to the highest constitutional office. It had backed Congress nominees -- Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee -- in the last two presidential elections.
    Asked about Fadnavis' remark that the BJP was prepared for snap Assembly election, in an apparent reference to continued strain in ties with the Shiv Sena, Shah earlier said, "What he meant was that if mid-term polls are forced on us, we are ready to fight."
    On the recent farm loan waiver announced by the Maharashtra government, Shah had said through it the state was offering relief to the farmers. "The burden of loan waiver will be on the government and not banks," he had said.

Darjeeling unrest: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gears up to revive peacekeeping wing
  • With GJM gearing up for a prolonged confrontation with West Bengal government over the Gorkhaland statehood issue, the party's leadership is planning to revive Gorkhaland Personnel(GLP) - its "peacekeeping" wing.
    "The situation is getting worse with each passing day. We feel that a head-on collision is just a matter of time. So we need to prepare ourselves to counter the state government democratically," GJM central committee member and former in-charge of GLP Colonel (retd) Ramesh Alley said.
    "We (GJM) will revive and recruit more youths in GLP our own peacekeeping force. We are not into any kind of violence nor is GLP into this. But we have to prepare ourselves," he said.
    GJM, Alley said, wants to raise a 8000-strong force in Darjeeling hills which will be well prepared to tackle "any kind of situation".
    The idea of setting up GLP by recruiting youths from the hills was first mooted by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung during the Gorkhaland agitation of 2008.
    Gurung had then held a meeting with former army personnel and officers from the hills and requested them to take charge of selection, recruitment and training of the youths. The outfit was first named Gorkhaland Police, but after opposition from various quarters it was renamed Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP).
    The criteria for a place in this force was education up to standard eight and of course physical fitness and agility. After initial selection, nearly 3000 youths were trained for joining GLP.
    The force in 2009 enforced bandhs called by GJM, ensured that locals wear traditional Nepali attire at least thrice a week, seize and destroy liquor and provide protection to Gurung and top GJM leaders.
    Paid only a paltry allowance, the GLP youths were promised to be absorbed into the police force after the creation of Gorkhaland. However, GLP took a back seat and most of its trained youths were absorbed into GJM youth wing instead following the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in 2011.
    "During GTA, the state government had promised that these youths would be absorbed in the state police force but nothing of the sort happened. Now we no longer have any expectation from the state government. We are Indians and we hope that the Centre will take action to resolve the crisis in the hills," Alley said.
    After Bimal Gurung's office and other premises of GJM were raided in this latest round of agitation, the party leadership decided to revive the force to counter the alleged police atrocities.
    Alley and other GJM leaders pointed out they are not for any armed struggle as that would mean taking up arms against the Centre.
    "We have been soldiers all our life. We can never think of armed struggle against the Centre. We love our motherland India, but we want a separate state. It is a fight for our own identity," Alley said.
    Darjeeling has been on the boil for the past ten days and indefinite shutdown is on by GJM in support of its separate Gorkhaland demand.

    Reacting to GJM's decision to revive GLP, senior TMC leader and minister Gautam Deb said " We all know that GJM is a separatist force. So it is expected that they well set up a militant organisation. But we will not allow such separatist forces to grow."

NDMC issues notices to Rashtrapati Bhavan over mosquito breeding
  • The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has slapped several notices on the Rashtrapati Bhavan after mosquito-breeding was observed at many pools of stagnant water on the sprawling complex.
    The NDMC has so far issued over 1,100 notices -- and 13 challans -- to various buildings in the VVIP Lutyens zone, which were found to be "breeding spots" for mosquitoes by its surveillance team.
    "Every year, we form a surveillance team whose inspection leads to notices being issued by the NDMC. If the situation doesn't improve by the time of second inspection, challans are issued," a senior official of NDMCs health department said.
    "We have issued several notices to various complexes and residential quarters in the Presidents Estate over mosquito breeding," the official added.
    Last year, the NDMC had issued over 80 notices to the Presidents Estate after "heavy" mosquito-breeding was found at various places on its sprawling campus, he said.
    The number of notices issued to the Presidents Estate was 125 in 2015.
    However, the exact number of notices issued to the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year was not immediately available.
    Among other important buildings which have been issued notices are the defence ministry and the Delhi high courts.
    Also, the Haryana Bhawan, Paryavaran Bhawan, Mausum Bhawan, Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Safdarjung Hospital, AIIMS, Delhi Police Headquarters, and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital have been served notices.
    According to the latest municipal report on vector-borne diseases, at least 70 cases of dengue and 135 of chikungunya have been reported in Delhi till June 10.

RSS-affiliate sets up Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership to train young guns for politics
  • By the end of this year when BJP will be locked in a high-voltage electoral battle with political rivals in Gujarat, an affiliate of its ideological mentor RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) will be using the opportunity to shape up the greenhorns in the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Shiv Sena and other parties as future leaders.
    Cutting across political lines, the participants coming from these parties will undergo an internship programme in poll-bound Gujarat conducted by Maharashtra-based Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership. The programme is an initiative of RSS-affiliated Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini but notwithstanding the political ideology, it has already received over 400 applications from aspirants across all parties.
    Since its establishment in the year 2000, the centre has been training nearly 2,500 participants every year in various courses that include leadership and management, politics and democracy and governance and public policy. In 2015 alone, nearly 7,000 participants undertook these programmes across the country. "For the first time we have started a postgraduate programme in leadership, politics and governance. This is the first of its kind programme in the country that aims at equipping participants with necessary skill-sets for making a career in politics, public affairs, voluntary organisation and various research works," said Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, vicechairman-cum-director general of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini.
    The nine-month programme starting August 1 this year will include class lectures as well as field training that will be conducted in Gujarat and Delhi. As per the programme, the students will be taken to Gujarat during elections where they will get the first-hand experience in basic political concept - poll management, public speaking, electioneering and data analytics, constituency management and political organisation. According to programme coordinators, the field work also includes visit to Delhi where participants will be taken to the Parliament and the Rashtrapati Bhavan besides interaction with MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats and journalists. Apart from the classroom lectures, experiential learning will include field visits to gram panchayat, Parliament, Legislative Assembly, Municipal Corporation and development projects. There will be two study tours - election tour to Gujarat and a visit to the national capital. In Delhi students will be taken to offices of various political parties, ministries and interaction with politicians of various parties.
    "The exercise aims at teaching students the actual functioning of institutions with the help of simulations of model Parliament and model United Nations. In the first internship, participants will be expected to work in their home constituencies while in the second internship, participants will have to work for a month with a politician or ministry and a voluntary or civil society organisation,' said Ravindra Sathe, executive director, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini.
    Meanwhile, the centre has been conducting several short-term courses in leadership, the most notable being the seven-day training programme called Netritva Sadhna. This course is a regular feature since its inception in 2000. The centre has also conducted five training sessions for chief ministers of different states wherein they were imparted skills on better coordination and effective policy making.
    Sahasrabuddhe said despite the institute's affiliation with the BJP and RSS, the campus has been kept ideologically neutral. The courses have been designed such that participants are taught all political ideologies, national and international policies and theories, social movements and election analysis.
    The Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership has already received nearly 400 applications for 40 seats for the first batch starting August 1. To get enrolled, one has to complete graduation from any stream. The nine-month course will cost Rs 2.5 lakh including accommodation and mess fees. Applicants have to submit a "statement of purpose" for joining the programme. "The applicants will be shortlisted on basis of their response and their social and political background. They will be asked on why they want to join the programme and how they will utilise it in the future," Sathe said.
    Participants at Prabodhini are given training on basics of governance, functioning of key agencies and various government policies. Their teachers are political leaders, academicians, bureaucrats, legal and accounting experts. "We focus on functional training of participants so that they come to grips with the complexities of governance. They will be taught basics things like how to file an RTI application, public interest litigation, registering an NGO. At the same time, they will learn functioning of various government agencies like Niti Aagog, Reserve Bank and others," Sahasrabuddhe said. We have coached not just BJP and RSS workers, but also those from the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena among others. "We do not impose our ideology here but are professional in our approach. The acceptability and popularity of the centre has only grown over the years," he said.

Using human shield to deal with situations not standard procedure: Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat
  • Misinformation and disinformation campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir are compelling the youth to pick up arms against the security forces, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Saturday.
    The Army chief also clarified that the incident of using a human shield to protect troops and civilians cannot be taken as a standard operating procedure to deal with situations emerging on ground.
    "There is some misinformation and disinformation being spread among the people of Jammu and Kashmir which is causing this trouble and possibly, I would say, compelling some of the younger generation to pick up arms. But I am quite confident that they will soon understand that any (such) thing that they are doing is not good for their own state and for the people," he said.
    Gen Rawat was in Hyderabad to attend the passing out parade of the cadets of Air Force Academy. The Army Chief strongly defended his force against the charges of handling the situation related to the Major Leetul Gogoi incident, saying that the force "has a very good human rights record. We are concerned about human rights and make sure rights of people are not violated."
    Commenting on Gogoi, who had tied a stone-pelter to a jeep as a shield against stone pelters, the chief said "everything and every action that we take is considering the nature of task that we are expected to carry out under the circumstances." When asked how Army viewed 'political' comments against it, he said, Armed forces do their work and task. We do not care about other things.
    Asked if the situation was deteriorating in the Valley with each passing day, Rawat said, "Well, not really. We are there to make sure the situation is brought under control. Therefore, I think at the present juncture we have to continue with the task in the manner in which we are carrying on.
    The Army chief admitted that some parts of south Kashmir are indeed troublesome, but necessary actions are being taken to ensure that the situation is brought under control. "Therefore, I think there should not be any cause for worry for anyone," he said. Gen Rawat said the defence forces in India have an impeccable track record. Today we command respect in all walks of life and that is because we have always successfully served the nation against external threats, internal disorders, during natural calamities and in rescue missions.

Business Affairs 

    GST Council to roll out on July 1, finalises tax rates on hotels, lottery
    • The GST Council today relaxed return filing rules for businesses for the first two months of the rollout of the new indirect tax regime even as it stuck to the July 1 launch date.
      The industry has been pushing for deferment of the tax implementation.
      As per the revised return filing timeline decided by the Council, for July, the sale returns will have to be filed by September 5 instead of August 10. Companies will have to file sale invoice for August with the GST Network by September 20 instead of September 10 earlier.
      "To obviate any lack of preparedness, a slight relaxation of time for two months -- July-August -- has been given. From September, strict adherence to time will go on," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here today.
      In relief for AC hotels, the Council decided to raise the threshold for the 28 per cent tax to RS 7,500 from Rs 5,000 at present. This would mean that an 18 per cent GST will be levied on bills of Rs 2,500-7,500.
      The Council decided to tax lotteries in two segments -- with state-run ones attracting 12 per cent GST and the state- authorised 28 per cent.
      Additionally, it has cleared six rules, including anti- profiteering. "I hope we are not compelled to use it (anti- profiteering)," Jaitley added.
      "A number of companies and trade have been raising the issue of lack of preparedness. We don't have the luxury of time to defer GST implementation," Jaitley made it clear.
      The official launch of the goods and services tax (GST) is slated for mid-night of June 30 and July 1.

    India Inc prepared for GST rollout from July 1: CII
    • Industry body CII on Sunday said India Inc is ready for the GST implementation from July 1, as the new indirect tax regime will contribute significantly towards economic growth, job creation and exports expansion.
      "GST has been finalised after a collaborative and consultative approach and we look forward to its introduction," Confederation of Indian Industry Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.
      "...GST is the most significant indirect tax reform introduced in the country since independence," he added.
      The industry body is organising over 100 workshops across the country to enable enterprises to comply with the new regulations.
      The workshops are expected to reach out to around 5,000 enterprises.
      Further, a helpline has been established where participants can request for clarifications.
      An awareness campaign has also been launched to inform industry about the processes related to Goods and Services Tax (GST). 

    Six of top-10 cos lose Rs 34,183 cr in m-cap; TCS hit hard
    • The combined market valuation of six of the 10 most valued Indian companies declined by Rs 34,182.73 crore last week, with IT major TCS taking the steepest hit.
      From the top-10 list, TCS, HDFC, HUL, Maruti, Infosys and ONGC suffered losses in their market capitalisation (m-cap) for the week ended Friday, while RIL, HDFC Bank, ITC and SBI made gains aggregating to Rs 30,203.08 crore.
      The m-cap of TCS slumped by Rs 22,226.42 crore to Rs 4,72,400.25 crore, taking the biggest knock among the top-10 entities.
      Maruti Suzuki Indias valuation tumbled by Rs 5,576.4 crore to Rs 2,19,503.45 crore while that of ONGC tanked Rs 2,951.64 crore to Rs 2,14,122.53 crore.
      The m-cap of Infosys declined by Rs 1,872.01 crore to Rs 2,16,027.65 crore while that of HUL dipped Rs 789.75 crore to Rs 2,36,262.13 crore.
      The valuation of HDFC fell by Rs 766.51 crore to Rs 2,60,661.37 crore.
      On the other hand, the m-cap of RIL surged Rs 17,021.26 crore to reach Rs 4,51,250.35 crore.
      SBIs valuation zoomed Rs 12,777.78 crore to Rs 2,46,747.16 crore and that of HDFC Bank rose by Rs 282.57 crore to Rs 4,28,478.90 crore.
      ITC added Rs 121.47 crore to its m-cap to Rs 3,72,074.34 crore.
      In the m-cap ranking of top-10 firms, TCS stood at number one position, followed by RIL, HDFC Bank, ITC, HDFC, SBI, HUL, Maruti, Infosys and ONGC.
      Both key indices Sensex and Nifty registered their second straight weekly fall by losing 205.66 points, or 0.65 per cent, and 80.20 points, or 0.82 per cent, respectively. 

    Dividend tax to add Rs 740 cr burden on MF retail investors
    • Over 46 million equity-linked retail investors in mutual fund industry may be in for a jolt if the goverment goes ahead with its plans to tax dividends at a hefty 10 per cent from next fiscal year.
      This move is likely to see an outgo of around Rs 740 crore per annum from these investors, say experts.
      However, industry lobby Amfi expects the government to heed its demand to shelve the plan and has already represented the matter to the finance ministry.
      The fear comes after the tax department recently notified the amended section-115BBDA of Income-Tax Act 2017, which seeks to tax dividend from MF investments into equities at 10 percent if the total income of an assessee exceeds Rs 10 lakh, including dividends distributed or paid by companies.
      The equity linked MF industry is around Rs 7 trillion and companies on an average pay 1.4 per cent annually, which totals Rs 7,400 crore, which will be taxed at 10 per cent.
      If the plan goes get through then it will lead to an additional tax burder of around Rs 740 crore from next April, say industry experts.
      At this moment, investment is not taxable as MFs enjoy exemption under section 1023D of the I-T Act.
      The burden will mostly be on retail investors as they are the drivers of this segment.
      Until now, individuals, firms and Hindu undivided families earning dividends from domestic companies in excess of Rs 10 lakh in a financial year are subject to 10 per cent taxation if their income from investments exceeds Rs 10 lakh. The idea is to nab company promoters and HNIs.
      However, from the next fiscal year, this tax has been extended to all assesses, except those entities specified as domestic companies, with a view to plug a loophole whereby some trusts created by promoters are getting the exemption.
      According to Amfi data, the number of retail investor accounts comprising equities, equity-linked saving schemes and balanced funds rose to 4.60 crore in May from 4.4 crore in March 2017.
      When contacted, an Amfi official said they have already appealed to the finance ministry not to tax retail investors as it will be hurt market sentment.
      "We have already represented the matter to the finance ministry and many favourable opinions have come in from some leading CA firms, and so we hope that the proposal to tax dividend will not come through," an Amfi official said.

    AIBOC asks govt to expedite appointments on PSB boards
    • Bank officers union has asked the government to urgently appoint officer and workmen nominee directors on the boards of public sector banks.
      "Despite our best and continuous efforts the government is silent on the issue (of appointment of officers and workmen directors) even when Banking Regulation Act mandates for it," All India Bank officers Confederation (AIBOC) said in a statement.
      The union asked the government to respect the law of the land and clear the appointment of officer and employee directors which is pending with the Prime Ministers Office for several months.
      Since, the government has not filled the vacancy for long, former employee or union members are forced to take the route of election of shareholder director process to enter the board, it said.
      Citing an example, it said, at the request of All India State Bank Officers Federation (AISBOF), Amarpal who was the former president of the federation, former Director to the Central Board (SBI) and former General Secretary of AIBOC filed nomination for director position.
      The confederation took it a challenge and at a very short notice went all out to contact SBI shareholders from all walks of life, AIBOC General Secretary D T Franco said in the statement.
      The polling took place on June 15, he said. "We are given to understand that Amarpal polled more than 6 lakh votes in the election," he claimed. 

    General Awareness

    Electric propulsion to usher in new era of satellite launches

    • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been working on a new propulsion system known as the Electric Propulsion (EP) system that is set to usher in a new era of cost effective satellite launches.
      More Details about Electric Propulsion (EP) system:
      The Electric Propulsion (EP) system converts solar energy into electrical energy which, in turn, is used to change the velocity of a satellite in space.
      • This technology was first used as a technology demonstrator in GSAT-9 or theSouth Asia Satellite launched on May 5, 2017.
      • Dr K Sivan, Director of Thiruvananthapuram-basedVikram Sarabhai Space Centre said, the EP system, is currently being used by NASA and Russian Space Agency.
      • He added that EP system has the capability to eventually lower the cost of launches and can also be used for deep-space and interplanetary missions
      Electric Propulsion (EP) system as a supplement to Chemical Propellant:
      Currently, a 2000-kg INSAT/GSAT-class communication satellite typically carries 800-1000kg of chemical propellant which is required for transferring the communication satellite from the geosynchronous transfer orbit (where it is placed by a rocket) to the geostationary orbit (36,000km away from the earth). The chemical propellant also helps in orbit correction and maintaining a satellite on its path for its life duration of 10-12 years.
      • By adopting EP system the quantity of chemical propellant required is reduced to 100-200kg as the correction of orbit of the spacecraft is done through EP system.
      • The need for lesser chemical propellant creates a scope for carrying a heavier payload to space.
      Quick Facts about ISRO:
      ISRO is the space agency of Government of India, formed with a vision to harness space technology for national development
      • Formation Year: 1969
      • Founded by: Vikram Sarabhai
      • Headquarters: Bengaluru, Karnataka
      • Current Chairman: A S Kiran Kumar

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