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Current Affairs - 01 August 2017

General Affairs 

Village Rahul Gandhi 'Adopted' Waits For Him 10 Years After Visit
  • Rahul Gandhi's two-day visit to Chhattisgarh's Bastar on the weekend did not include a village that has waited for him for 10 years.

    The village Jamwada is just 15 km from a government school where the Congress vice president addressed a "Jan Adhikar (people's rights)" rally on Saturday.

    In October 2008, the Congress leader spent hours at this village and declared that he was adopting it, though informally. Three years ago, when the government launched a scheme for MPs to adopt and develop villages, he picked one in his mother Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Jamwada, a village of 4,500, complains that since that visit, they have seen neither the 47-year-old Congress leader, nor any big progress. The Congress, however, points out that the village is part of the assembly constituency of BJP lawmaker Santosh Bafna and the parliamentarian is also from the ruling party.

    Mr Gandhi had spent half-an-hour each at the homes of villagers like Somnath and Srinath. Somnath says he was promised a pucca or permanent house. "He said he will make roads, a school, but nothing happened," says an angry Srinath. "Rahul Gandhi used to say, I am adopting Jamwada, but there is no work here... road, electricity, work," says Gaduru Nag. He says the villagers expected more as Mr Gandhi's party was in power.

    Even a basic amenity like electricity has not reached a part of the village; there are only lifeless poles instead.

    Ten years ago, around 700 people were below the poverty line, now the number has risen to 1070 according to Gram Panchayat. Only 10 people are in government jobs and 500 work in the city. Four people benefited from a self-employment scheme and around 200 poor families were helped by a government housing scheme.

    Somnath Soy, the Sarpanch or village head of Jamwada, says: "This is my fourth term, Rahul Gandhi had come but nothing came from him. We have used Panchayat funds for development."

Final Decision On GM Mustard Likely In September, Supreme Court Told
  • A decision on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop in the country will be taken by September, the Central government told the Supreme Court on Monday.

    A division bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said it will hear the pleas challenging commercial release of GM mustard, if the central government allows its roll-out.

    Taking into consideration that the sowing season of mustard begins in the month of October, the bench posted the matter for September.

    The court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the commercial rollout of GM mustard and open field trials citing health risks.

    Earlier, the government was given was asked by the court to apprise it as to by when it will take a "well-informed and well-intentioned" policy decision on the roll-out.

    Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops, which is sown between mid-October and late-November.

    Seeking the implementation of the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee, petitioners, environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues and others, have sought direction for inquiry and report on the field trials and application process of GM mustard crops.

    Seeking a moratorium on the commercialisation of any other GM crop, they have said that genetically modified crops should not be released in open until there was a "comprehensive, transparent and rigorous biosafety protocol in the public domain conducted by agencies of independent expert bodies, the results of which are made public".

Number Of Dead In West Bengal Flood Reaches 39
  • The number of people who have died in floods in West Bengal has reached 39 today with the death of five more people. The situation, however, has improved with water level in rivers receding and no fresh rain.
    "Out of the 39 death, 19 drowned, three got electrocuted, five each died due of wall collapse, lightning and snake bite, while two others died after their boat sank," an officer of the state disaster management department said in Kolkata. "The situation is improving slowly mainly because less water has been released from dams and also of less rainfall in the past few days," he said.

    In the 14 flood-hit districts in West Bengal, 27 lakh people have been affected by flood. The government has set up 311 relief camps where over 47,000 people have taken shelter, the officer said, adding it has also set up 131 medical camps.
    "Over 16,000 animals are being sheltered in relief camps for animals and veterinary doctors are looking after them. We have also sent medicines, water pouches and other items to all the districts," he said.

    An official at the agriculture department said some four lakh hectares of farm land have been affected by flood, adding two lakh volunteers are participating in rescue operations.

    The state government said it will rebuild houses of people affected by flood, give them drinking water and medicines, and distribute seeds to farmers.

Nobody Strong Enough To Take On PM Modi In 2019, Says Nitish Kumar
  • Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who swapped partners last week to ally with the BJP once again in Bihar, today said that no one is strong enough to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, when he will seek re-election.

    "There is no doubt about his re-election as Prime Minister as there's no one to challenge him," Nitish Kumar told reporters at a press conference at which he detailed what led to his decision to resign and dissolve his two-year-old alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress. "I will prove all the critics wrong with my work and the performance of the government," he said in response to criticism over his decision.

    Seen as a strong contender to challenge PM Modi as the head of an opposition bloc that is being tested ahead of the national election, Mr Kumar ruled himself out of that race when he dumped his allies and, less than a day later, took oath again, this time setting up a government with the BJP, with which he had split acrimoniously four years ago after a 17-year partnership.   

    Mr Kumar had ended his party, the Janata Dal United's alliance, with the BJP over the latter's decision to project Narendra Modi as its presumptive Prime Minister. Two years later he joined hands with Lalu Yadav, a bitter rival for years and the Congress to prevent PM Modi from leading the BJP to winning Bihar in assembly elections.

    Minutes after he resigned last week over corruption charges against Lalu Yadav and his son Tejashwi Yadav, then number 2 in the state government, PM Modi had congratulated him for "joining the fight against corruption." Nitish Kumar tweeted back, thanking the PM for his support. 
    It was not the first sign of warmth between the two leaders. Nitish Kumar stood out among opposition leaders in his praise of the Prime Minister's notes ban aimed at eliminating black money last year and more recently the launch of the Goods and Services Tax or GST. PM Modi had praised Nitish Kumar's prohibition policy in Bihar.

    Talk of a likely political realignment had begun when Nitish Kumar broke ranks with the opposition a few weeks ago to support the government's nominee for President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. The corruption charges against Lalu Yadav gave Nitish Kumar an exit route, his former partners have said, accusing him of "conspiracy" and "betrayal."    
    "I had to put up with a lot," said Mr Kumar today, recounting how questions were asked on why he was not acting after Lalu Yadav and his family were raided by the CBI earlier this month. "Lalu did not give any clarification on the corruption charges, how could I remain silent," said Nitish Kumar, asserting again that he has "zero tolerance for corruption."

Gujarat Congress Legislators Offered Rs. 15 Crore Each To Support BJP: Congress
  • Opposition Congress today claimed in Lok Sabha that its MLAs in Gujarat were being offered Rs. 15 crore in return of support to the BJP and being pressurised by the ruling party in the state.

    As soon as the House assembled, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue of political situation in Gujarat, from where Congress shifted its legislators to Karnataka fearing poaching allegedly by the BJP ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections.

    Ruling BJP has fielded three members including party president Amit Shah, union minister Smriti Irani and a rebel Congress legislator who joined the BJP ahead of the election. He will contest against Ahmed Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political adviser, who is also seeking re-election to the Rajya Sabha.

    "The Congress MLAs are being put under pressure," Mr Kharge alleged amidst the protests and counter-protests by Congress and BJP members respectively.

    Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia too alleged that each of the Congress MLAs in Gujarat were offered Rs. 15 crore in return of supporting the BJP.

    Both Mr Kharge and Mr Scindia wanted a discussion on the issue in the House. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the demand saying it was a subject relating to a state and cannot be discussed in the House.

Business Affairs

Now file Income Tax Return by August 5, link Aadhar to PAN by August 31 as government extends deadline
  • Income Tax Department on Monday extended the last date to file income tax return for financial year 2016-17 or assessment year 2017-18 due to various technical glitches taxpayers were facing on the e-filing website of IT-department.
    The announcement came after Twitter users complained about not being able to file income tax returns on the e-filing website 
    On Sunday, the Income Tax Department had ruled out any extension in the deadline while saying over 2 crore returns have been received.
    The official twitter handle of the Income Tax Department said the decision was taken 'in view of difficulties faced by taxpayers.'
    This time, linking of Aadhaar number with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) is mandatory for filing Income Tax return, beginning July 1.
    The Ministry of Finance has now said that actual linking of PAN with Aadhaar can be done before August 31. The returns, however, will not be processed until the linkage of Aadhaar with PAN. For e-filing of I-T returns now, it will be sufficient to quote the Aadhar number or acknowledgement number for having applied for Aadhar.
    An official of the IT department said the decision to extend the deadline ending today was taken after a meeting of the revenue department and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was held in the finance ministry today.
    The last minute inundation and heavy logging on the official website of the e-filing portal of the department led to the extension of five more days for filing the ITRs by taxpayers.
    This time, linking of Aadhaar number with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) is mandatory for filing Income Tax return, beginning July 1.
    The Ministry of Finance has now said that actual linking of PAN with Aadhaar can be done before August 31. The returns, however, will not be processed until the linkage of Aadhaar with PAN. 
    But, the situation changed today and the extension was declared.
    This time, the linking of the Aadhaar number with the PAN (Permanent Account Number) of a taxpayer has been made mandatory for filing of an ITR, beginning July 1.
    The department has also asked taxpayers to declare cash deposits made in bank accounts aggregating to Rs 2 lakh or more, post demonetisation between November 9-December 30 last year, in the ITRs.

Jaitley introduces 2 bills in Lok Sabha to extend GST to Jammu and Kashmir
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today introduced in the Lok Sabha two bills that would extend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to Jammu and Kashmir .
    The Central Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017 , would provide for levy of the GST on goods sold and services rendered in the state, while the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017 seeks to levy the tax on inter-state movement of goods.
    Jaitley introduced both these bills in the Lok Sabha.
    While the GST, which replaced more than a dozen central and state levies, came into effect from July 1 all over the country, the Jammu and Kashmir assembly passed a resolution adopting the constitutional amendment only on July 5.
    Thereafter, the president issued an ordinance extending the provisions to the state. This was necessary because of the special status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoys in the Constitution.
    The state of Jammu and Kashmir passed the Jammu and Kashmir Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 which came into force on July 8, 2017, the statement of objects and reasons for the two legislations said.
    The Central-GST would be imposed on intra-state supplies in the state and the integrated tax on inter-sate supplies.
    But with the state adopting the law, ordinances were promulgated. And now the legislations have been introduced to replace them.
    As Parliament was not in session and an urgent legislation was required to be made, the president promulgated" the Central Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Ordinance, 2017 and the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Ordinance, 2017 on July 8, said the statement of Objects and reasons of the two bills.
    After the Central GST Act or CGST and Integrated GST Act or IGST was approved by Parliament in the previous Budget session, all the states, excepting Jammu and Kashmir, had passed legislations adopting them and a State GST.

RBI asks banks to enable account number portability
  • RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra has asked banks to work towards account number portability as it will be a far-reaching step towards enhancing competition and improving customer service.
    Speaking at the annual conference of banking ombudsmen here recently, he said banks should look forward to providing more choices to the new generation of customers who are more technology savvy.
    "A scenario was thus emerging wherein customers would be able to silently walk out from one institution to another, in case of any dissatisfaction with the services," RBI said in a release today, quoting Mundra.
    Mundra said this will be further accentuated with the possibility of portability of accounts and urged the banks to work towards account number portability.
    Mundra also referred to issue of the rising trend of loss of cheques from drop boxes and the lack of alacrity shown by banks in redressing such complaints.
    In such cases, the Deputy Governor suggested that the customer "must be compensated immediately".
    He asked the banks to look at the the possibility of setting up a common account and compensate the customers immediately from the pool, without waiting for recovery of the amount from insurance.
    Referring to the tenets of the Charter of 'Customer Rights', Mundra asked the lenders and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) to work towards evolving a common platform to provide a comparative and transparent view of various products and services.

Google offers job to class 12 govt school student with salary of Rs 12 lakh per month
  • Dreams do come true. A class 12 student from a government school in Chandigarh who has landed a high-paying job with Google can vouch for it. Harshit Sharma, a student of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 33-B, Chandigarh, has had an extremely fortunate turn in his life, with the internet giant offering him an incredible salary of Rs 4 lakh per month, reports the Indian Express. And, mind you, this is just the beginning.  
    Google has recruited Harshit as a graphic designer. The company will send him to California for training for a year where he will receive a stipend of Rs 4 lakh. Once the training is over, he will get a monthly remuneration of Rs 12 lakh.
    Harshit, who had an interest in designing from an early age, says he can't believe his dream has come true. He always wanted to work with Google. "Who knew that an average student like me will get a job in Google. I can't share my happiness how I am feeling, it's like a dream has come true. My hard work has paid off well," the paper quoted him Harshit as telling Chandigarh Newsline.
    Early on in his life, Harshit developed his skills from his uncle Rohit. He has a feeling of gratitude towards the man who taught him graphic designing as he never went to a professional institute to learn.
    "I never expected to get selected for Google. Since the age of 10, I used to do graphic design as I was inspired and trained by my uncle Rohit Sharma. Slowly, it became my passion and I always aimed for a job in Google. Whatever I am is because of my uncle and I owe my selection to him as I never joined any professional institute for training," said Harshit.
    Google selected Harshit after he applied for position where he submitted his work, which included the posters he had designed. He received an appointment letter from Google in the month of June. Harshit will leave for California on August 7. 

After Mukesh Ambani's JioPhone, now Anil Ambani's RCom offers 365GB data, free device worth Rs 3,200
  • As Reliance Jio continues to create disruption in the market, Reliance Communications (RCom) has come up with a scheme offering cheap 4G data . The telecom company owned by Anil Ambani has launched a bundle offer worth Rs 5,199, which includes a Reliance 4G SIM card with 1GB 4G data every day for a year and WiPod dongle worth Rs 3,200 for free.
    The offer has been listed on the , which again is valid for a year. The data benefits will be available on both SIM cards as well as dongles with a validity of one year. The offer includes a prepaid Reliance 4G SIM card with 1GB data per day for 365 days, whereas the WiPod dongle is being bundled free of charge.
    Buyers can purchase the dongle bundle offer with a onetime payment or avail EMI options offered by Reliance Communications starting from Rs 500, for a period of 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months with various credit cards.
    The offer claims to provide true 4G data speeds, video and HD voice calls - even on 2G and 3G smartphones. The WiPod dongle can optimally support 10 devices with an uplink speed of 150 Mbps and a downlink speed of 50 Mbps.
    The WiPod dongle itself, made by ZTE, works on LTE FDD B3/B5, and LTE TDD 340 communication systems, delivering LTE FDD (Cat 4) speeds. The dongle runs on a Qualcomm MDM9307 chipset and a 2300 mAh battery, which is good for 5-6 hours of usage under normal network conditions.
    The dongle comes with an external USB port for charging, a SIM card slot and an external SD card slot which supports microSD memory cards up to 32GB.
    The dongle works on 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi protocol and a frequency of 2.4 GHz which is capable of tethering 31 devices at once. However, it is recommended not to exceed 10 devices for best 4G speeds.

General Awareness

Swachh Survekshan-2018 launched to assess sanitation in all 4,041 cities and towns of the country

  • Central Government has launched ‘Swachh Survekshan-2018’ to rank all the 4,041 cities and towns of the country on 31st of July 2017. It is based on certain parameters like infrastructure development for improved sanitation services and their sustainability, outcomes, citizen connect and visible impact on ground.
    Key Points:
    Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Shri Narendra Singh Tomar has launched the survey, the third in the series and released a comprehensive Survey Tool Kit which explain the methodology, weightages and new features and plunge areas .
    • As per the Survey Toolkit released, cities and towns will prepare over the next six months before field assessment begins on the fourth of January next year with survey results scheduled to be announced on 26th March 2018.
    • It helps cities and towns prepare for the field survey over the next six months.
    • The first Pan-India sanitation survey will assess sanitation levels in all the cities and towns of the country.It will impact the lives of about 40 crore urban people and it is the largest of its kind in the world.
    • The 4,041 cities and towns are to be covered under Swachh Survekshan-2018, results of which will be announced in March next year.
    • It includes 500 with a population of one lakh and above each and state capitals and 3,541 with population below one lakh each.
    • For these 3,541 towns, State and Zonal rankings will be announced besides national rankings for the other 500 cities and towns.
    • The Minister informed that the methodology and weightages for Swachh Surekshan-2018 have been modified to certain extent.
    • It is based on extensive consultations with city and state governments, experts and other stakeholders and in line with the progress of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
    • The total weightage for Citizen Feedback and Independent observation of sanitation have been increased by 10% over that of 2017 Survey.
    • To encourage cities take up innovative sanitation practices and solutions, a new element of ‘Innovation’ has been introduced this year with a weightage of 5%.
    Sanitation component-wise weightages
    ComponentWeightage in 2017 SurveyWeightage in 2018 Survey
    ODF Progress30%30%
    Collection & Transportation of Solid waste40%30%
    Processing & Disposal of solid waste20%25%
    Info, Edu, Communication5%5%
    Capacity Building5%5%
    Total marks200040000
    Assessment Weightages
    Assessment CategoryWeightage in 2017 SurveyWeightage in 2018 Survey
    Service level progress (Infrastructure creation, Processes operations)45%35%
    Citizen Feedback30%35%
    Independent Field observation25%30%
    The Survey Methodology seeks to capture the efforts under and outcomes of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) as the cities are taking step from building toilets towards Solid Waste Management.
    • Under this survey, cities will be ranked based on 71 sanitation related parameters with different weightages for a total of 4,000 marks.
    • Under this, if claims of city governments are found to be incorrect by independent assessors, they will get 33% negative marks besides zero marks in respect of such parameters.
    • Marks for each of the components of sanitation will be assigned based on rigorous assessment of claims of city governments, citizen feedback and independent observation.
    • It gives emphasis on decentralized solutions, ensuring sustainability of improved sanitation infrastructure and services and enforcement.
    • Total score has been doubled this time to avoid crowding of cities with very marginal differences in scores that happened in the previous survey.
    • Under Swachh Survekshan-2016, 73 cities with a population of million plus each and all state capitals were ranked in which Mysuru, Chandigarh and Tiruchirapalli emerged as the cleanest cities in that order.
    • In the 2017 Survey, 434 cities with a population of one lakh plus each and state capitals were assessed in which Indore, Bhopal and Visakhapatnam were the cleanest cities.
    Swachh Survekshan-2018’s rousing anthem ‘Swachhata Ki Jyot JagiHai’ released
    To inspire the people to participate in the Swachhata Jan Andolan and connect themselves with the ‘Swachhata Survekshan-2018’ launched on 31st July 2017. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs released a song with opening line ‘Swachhata Ki Jyot Jagi Hai’. (The flame of sanitation has been lit).
    Key Points:
    This song to be used as the anthem for the survey. It has been released by Shri Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
    • The song conceived by Shri Supriyoand has been scripted by renowned lyricist Shri Prasoon Joshi and visualized free for the ministry by Producer ShriMukesh Bhatt and Shri Shankar Mahadevan gave the music.
    • To connect the people with the sanitation survey, this song has been provided by a team of Shri Babul Supriyo, ShriUdit Narayan, Ms.ShreyaGhoshal, Ms.AlkaYagnik, AkritiKakar and Shann Banerjee, to the chorus of children.
    • The song also has messages of Shri Amitabh Bachhan and ShriSachin Tendulkar.
    • The song will be dubbed into regional languages for wider outreach

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