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Current Affairs - 10 September 2017

General Affairs 

Baramulla encounter: Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist killed by forces in Sopore
  • One terrorist was killed in an encounter that started between security forces and militants in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla today morning.The slain terrorist has been identified as Riyaz Ahmed, Divisional Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen.
    One to two militants were believed to be hiding in Rafiabad area of Sopore.
    A part of the village had been cordoned off by the forces.
    The local residents were asked to leave the village.
    Search operations were launched in Rebban area of Sopore after inputs of presence of terrorists in the area.
    Educational institutions were closed and internet services snapped in the district.

Kashmir: CM Mufti, Home Minister Rajnath Singh hold meeting, discuss various projects in Valley
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a four day visit to Kashmir, took review of the implementation of PM Modi's ambitious Prime Minister's Development Package (PMDP), along with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, at a high level meeting of officers here in Srinagar, today.
    The two leaders took detailed review of projects taken up under the Rs 80,000 crore PMDP.
    Singh urged the officers of the state and Central government to work in a coordinated manner for the timely implementation of the projects. He said, the PMDP which envisages a developmental and infrastructural revolution in the State is the biggest financial package for J&K so far.
    Chief Minister Mufti said, given the limited working season and harsh winters in the Valley, these releases have to fast-paced and furthered.
    Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, was also present in the meeting.
    Chief Secretary, B B Vyas, and OSD to Union Home Minister, Amrendra Kumar Sengar, briefed the meeting in detail about various categories of projects taken under PMDP.
    It was informed that 63 projects have been taken up under PMDP by 15 union ministries through 39 executing agencies, of which around 80% of the projects stand formally sanctioned, the meeting was told.
    Out of the total outlay, Rs 21,988 crore have been released under the package and five projects have already been completed while as seven projects are likely to be completed soon, the meeting was informed.
    About the projects in progress, 22 major road projects in the state, including some huge infrastructural works like semi-ring road projects for Srinagar and Jammu, Kargil-Zanaskar road, and Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of National Highway are in various stages of completion.
    The meeting was informed that the IIM at Jammu has started functioning from transit accommodation with an off-campus at Narkara, Budgam. Similarly, the IIT at Jammu has also started functioning and the process of raising infrastructure at the two institutes has also been started.
    Similarly, under AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation), the DPRs (Detailed Project Report) of 56 out of 59 projects have been approved, out of which 27 projects have been started.
    Under the Himayat programme, a target of training more than one lakh youth for five years has been fixed with people placement linkages.
    Among the 11 projects to be taken up for execution include some ambitious projects like Rs. 5100 crore Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch road project; Rs. 1800 crore Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund road project; Rs. 2700 crore 105 kilometre long connectivity project for various tourist destinations; and Rs. 1800 crore Zojila tunnel project.
    Also, indoor stadia are being constructed in 10 district headquarters, the meeting was told.

    Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Gauba, Additional Secretary (Home) BR Sharma along with all the administrative secretaries of various departments were present in the meeting.

Hurriyat hawks in, Rajnath Singh out: Home minister reaches Srinagar to hold talks on Kashmir issue
  • JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested while other senior separatist leaders were placed under house arrest ahead of their proposed protest at the NIA headquarters in Delhi, even as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here today to hold talks on the Kashmir issue.
    Rajnath, who is here on a four-day visit, has said he was going to Jammu and Kashmir with an open mind and was willing to meet with anyone who could help in finding solutions to the Kashmir issue.
    The Union Home Minister began his visit by meeting state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the Nehru Guest House in Srinagar.
    He is expected to travel to Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Rajouri and meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits, business leaders and others during the visit.
    Meanwhile, senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have been placed under house arrest in Srinagar, while Yasin Malik was arrested by police from his uptown Maisuma residence around midnight.
    Authorities have imposed restrictions in six police station areas of Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Safa Kadal and Maisuma.
    Police claimed that the senior separatist leaders had not been detained because they intended to go to Delhi, but because they were trying to create a law and order problem.
    Munir Ahmad Khan, Inspector General of police (IGP) Kashmir, told reporters that the three senior separatist leaders were trying to mobilize people for a separatist rally that would have created a law and order problem for the authorities.
    "Had they moved to Delhi as normal passengers we would have allowed them to go wherever they wanted to go. But, we cannot allow anybody to create a law and order problem," the IGP said.
    State Director General of police (DGP) SP Vaid had said on Friday that the three separatist leaders would be allowed to go anywhere they wanted to go.

Nashik hospital infants death: Lack of oxygen kills 55 newborns in 1 month
  • In yet another shocking revelation of medical negligence, over 55 infants lost their lives in the month of August at the Nashik District Hospital.
    "In the month of August we have had 55 deaths, main reason is that we have no ventilators. We got sanction for 21 beds, new maternal wing, but the problem is that we need to cut a tree and have not got permission till now," said Dr GM Hole.
    In August, around 350 kids were admitted in the hospital and out of those 55 kids lost their life due to the deficiency of oxygen gas, ventilator and lack of other health facilities.
    Total 187 children have died in this hospital in the past five months.
    On Friday, MLC from Nasik Jaayant Jadhav and health minister Deepak Sawant held a meeting to address the issue of repleting resources at the hospital.
    Following the Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur hospital tragedy, at least 49 children also died in Farrukhabad last month. Speaking to the media over such lapses in medical care, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, "It will not be proper to compare the Gorakhpur incident to Nasik. We are looking into this matter but you should also see the number of cases as compared to last year's. You can see less number of cases this year."

JNUSU polls update: United Left takes lead in close fight with ABVP
  • The students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University today turned out in numbers to cast their votes to elect new office bearers of the students' union.
    This year's election is touted to be significant because of the recent developments in the otherwise Left-dominated JNU campus. The varsity politics has hit the headlines several times over various issues in the past few years.
    It was predominantly a three-cornered fight between the right wing ABVP, the Left Unity of AISA, SFI and DSF, and the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association (BAPSA).
    Here's the list of candidates and the latest vote count:
    President Geeta (Left United) - 661; Nidhi (ABVP) - 568; Shabana Ali (BAPSA) -491; Farooq - 235; Aprajita - 229
    Vice President Simone (Left) - 802; Durgesh (ABVP)- 592; Subodh (BAPSA) - 517
    General Secretary Duggirala (Left) - 990; Nikunj (ABVP) - 519; Karam (BAPSA) - 529
    Joint Secretary Subhanshu (Left) - 762; Vinod (BAPSA) - 494; Pankaj (ABVP) - 554
    After counting of 2131 votes for president's post, United Left got 580 votes and ABVP 544 votes.
    Seven candidates are in the fray for the post of the student's union president, which is currently held by the AISA in alliance with the SFI.
    Total 4,639, or 58.69 per cent, of 7,903 voters cast their ballots, a drop from 59.60 per cent last year, according to the JNUSU election committee.
    Polling was held in two phases -- between 9.30 am and 1 pm, and 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm.
    Out of total 8,045 students of JNU, only 7,903 students were eligible to vote for the central panel of four, whereas the remaining 142 students who have taken up certificate courses can vote only for councillors, according to the election committee.
    However, looking at the absolute numbers - this year total number of voters were just 8,045 because of seat cuts compared to last year's around 8,600 students.
    Though the first phase witnessed a lower voter turnout, large number of voters turned up in the second phase.

Business Affairs

GST Council meet: 30 daily-use items now cheaper, luxury cars get dearer
  • Mid-sized and luxury cars as also SUVs will cost more after the GST Council on Saturday decided to levy an additional 2 to 7 per cent cess on them but exempted small and hybrid cars from any hike.
    The council also lowered the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates for a number of daily-use products ranging from idli/dosa batter to kitchen gas lighter.
    A 2 per cent additional cess will be levied on mid-sized cars, 5 per cent on large cars and 7 per cent on SUVs, taking the total incidence of taxation to pre-GST levels, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after an 8-hour long meeting of the panel here.
    The council, headed by Jaitley, however, decided not to levy any additional tax on small petrol and diesel cars of up to 1200 cc as well as on hybrid ones.
    The date of implementation of the additional cess will be notified later.
    "Small petrol and diesel cars enjoyed a tax advantage of 3 per cent post GST. But status quo will be maintained on small petrol and diesel cars, so even if it has got cheaper let consumers enjoy the benefit," Jaitley said.
    Tax on mid segment cars had gone down from 48 per cent to 43 per cent and the council today decided to increase cess by 2 per cent to 45 per cent, he said.
    Large cars got an advantage of 8 per cent, but the council hiked cess today by 5 per cent, he said adding SUVs got benefit of 11 per cent post GST, but cess is being hiked by only 7 per cent.
    "Cess on cars with seating capacity above 10 but up to 13 as well as hybrid cars will remain unchanged," he said.
    The council, he said, decided that in large vehicles where affordability of consumers is high, the pre-GST rate has not been restored.
    "Even though we had a headspace of hiking cess by 10 per cent, it has been hiked by 7 per cent," the finance minister said.
    Jaitley said GST on about 30 items have been lowered after anomalies in the fixation of rates were pointed out.
    To deal with businesses which are deregistering brands post GST to avoid taxes, the panel decided May 15, 2017 as the cut-off date for considering as a registered brand for the purpose of GST levy, irrespective of whether or not the brand is subsequently deregistered.
    Unbranded food items are exempted from the GST, whereas branded and packaged food items attract 5 per cent rate.
    Hence, many businesses are deregistering their brands to avoid the levy.
    The tax has been lowered on dried tamarind, custard power, oil cakes, dhoop batti, dhoop and other similar items, plastic raincoast, rubber bands, rice rubber rolls for paddy de-husking, computer monitors and kitchen gas lighters and brooms and brushes.
    Also, the deadline for filing of sales return or GSTR-1 for the month of July, the first month of implementation of the new tax regime, has been extended by a month to October 10.
    Deadlines for other three returns to be filed under the GST regime have also been extended.
    Jaitley said overall GST collections have been robust with over 70 per cent of eligible taxpayers filing returns of about Rs 95,000 crore.
    The meeting, the second since the implementation of GST, reviewed the functioning of GST Network -- the IT backbone and portal for registration and tax returns under the GST regime.
    GSTN on "two-three occasions got overloaded. These are transient challenges and glitches in technology. The council has decided to appoint a committee to interact with GSTN for smooth transition", the finance minister said.
    Since the work is huge, the period of filing of returns has been extended, he said.
    Jaitley further said that food stuff sold in open was categorised at zero per cent tax rate while the branded ones attracted 5 per cent.
    Some businesses were deregistering their brands and selling under corporate brand name, creating inequality of trade, "so we amended the rule", he said.
    "If you fall in either of two categories, you will pay 5 per cent tax -- one, if on May 15, 2017, you had a registered trade mark you have to pay 5 per cent GST. Two, if you have a mark or a name on which you are entitled to maintain actionable claim or exclusivity, then you have to pay 5 per cent," Jaitley added.
    Khadi fabric sold through KVIC stores would be exempted, he said adding inter-state sales where turnover is less than Rs 20 lakh as also for artisans will not need registration.
    Similar dispensation for certain categories of job work, excluding gold, has also been approved.
    At its last meeting on August 5, the panel had approved hike in cess on mid, large size cars, SUVs, hybrid and luxury ones to up to 25 per cent, from 15 per cent. Subsequently, an Ordinance promulgated and the council today looked into the quantum of hike.
    Car prices had dropped by up to Rs 3 lakh as the tax rates fixed under the GST that came into effect from July 1, was lower than the combined central and state taxes in the pre-GST days.
    To fix this anomaly, the council raised the cess.
    Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the council has decided that GSTR-3B will be filed for four more months till December.
    "For GSTR-1, 2, 3, we are giving a long rope and we are staggering the return filing date for July," he said.
    "(For) companies with turnover of over Rs 100 crore, the last date for filing GSTR-1 will be October 3. For the rest, it will be October 10," he said.
    GSTR-2 for July will have to be filed by October 31 and GSTR-3 by November 10.
    Date of GSTR 1, 2, 3 return filing for month of August will be informed later.
    Jaitley said businesses can opt for Composition Scheme till September 30 and the council has also allowed businesses to make rectification in transition form TRAN-1 once.
    Under the GST, which replaced over a dozen central and state levies in the biggest tax reform since independence, cars attract the top tax rate of 28 per cent.
    On top of this, a cess of 1 to 15 per cent has been levied for the creation of a corpus to compensate states for any loss of revenue from implementation of GST.

21st GST Council meet: Last date for sales return filing extended to October 10
  • The GST Council today met for the 21st time to discuss some of the issues after the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax or GST. During the meet, various states raised the challenges faced by traders and enterprises in registering and filing GST returns.
    Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu came out with an idea to set up a small group of ministers to examine the issue of technical glitch in GST network. This recommendation came after the report that the GSTN software had witnessed some technical glitches after which the last date of filing had to be extended.
    Drabu spoke to Business Standard and said: "There are issues with GSTN; there is no doubt about it. But these are transitional and some are operational. We will discuss it with the Council. I would recommend that we set up a small group of ministers to examine and work out a way forward in 2-3 months."
    J&K Finance Minister isn't the only person to raise this issue. Ahead of the meet, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra had also raised the similar concern and asked the Finance Minister to present the white paper on the GST preparedness before the GST council.
    According to a PTI report, the Council has extended the last date for filing of sales return or GSTR-1 by a month to October 10.
    Telangana Finance Minister E Rajender asked the government to scrap GST on ongoing work contracts. He also advocated for lower GST rate on granite, marble industry and the beedi sector. "Telangana is a new state, and the burden of high tax on some of the state government projects may pose difficulties in terms of revised estimates and budgets," Rajender said ahead of the meeting.
    According to reports, Telangana also sought tax relief for some of the public utility projects such as irrigation schemes, state-run schemes which are meant to provide drinking water to every household and a two-bed room housing scheme for the poor.
    The council has over the past 10 months ironed out various contentious issues and decided on a four-tier tax structure of 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent.

PAC members oppose Air India divestment; seek explanation on ministry's decision
  • Some members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today opposed the proposed disinvestment of Air India, saying that the national carrier is now performing "relatively better", according to sources.
    The committee, headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, today interacted with officials from the Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India on the airline's turnaround plan.
    Sources said some of the members opposed the proposed divestment of Air India and sought explanation from the ministry on the decision.
    Members wanted to know the reason for such a decision when the airline, which is receiving money under turnaround plan, is doing "relatively better", sources added.
    Some members wanted to know about the bailout money pumped in when the airline goes for divestment and the interest burden, they said.
    Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey, among other officials, was present at the meeting.
    Approved by the previous UPA regime in 2012, the turnaround plan provides for equity infusion of Rs 30,231 crore up to 2021 into Air India subject to the carrier achieving certain milestones.
    As part of the plan, various steps have been taken to cut costs and losses. These include route rationalisation and enhanced utilisation of new fleet.
    The panel today took oral evidence from representatives of Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India on 'Turnaround Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan of Air India Ltd based on C&AG Report' that was released in 2016, as per its schedule.
    As part of efforts to revive the loss-making Air India, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in- principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the airline in June.
    A group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is working on the modalities of the divestment.
    Sources said the PAC would also be asking officials from Niti Aayog, Cabinet Secretariat and Finance Ministry to appear before it on the Air India matter.
    PAC has 20 members, including those from the Congress and the BJP.

ASCI pulls up Coca Cola, HUL, Emami, others for misleading ads
  • Top FMCG companies, including Hindustan Unilever, Coca Cola, Emami and PepsiCo India Holding, have been pulled up by the advertising sector watchdog ASCI for misleading advertisements in June.
    The Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received 126 complaints in the month, out of which 62 have been upheld.
    Other companies against which complaints have been upheld include, and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), ASCI said in a statement.
    The watchdog upheld 23 complaints in healthcare category, 17 in education, 10 in food and beverages, six in the personal care category, and six from others.
    The ASCI pulled up Coca Cola India for its campaigns for Maaza, Fanta, Sprite and Thums Up saying disclaimers in the advertisements "were not legible".
    Emami's advertisement for Kesh King ayurvedic oil and shampoo in which the FMCG firm claimed "no hair-fall, dandruff or dryness" was considered to be an absolute claim, the regulator said.
    Further, "the advertiser did not substantiate the claim of 'weak matrix cells in the roots of the hair are activated by this oil'," the ASCI added.
    Similarly, the ASCI found Hindustan Unilever's advertisement for its ayurvedic anti-dandruff Ayush shampoo to be misleading saying "the message (that) use of anti-dandruff shampoo is associated with fears of hair loss in users, is not based on any evidence and is unsubstantiated".
    For Apollo Hospitals Enterprise's claim saying World's largest solid organ transplant programme, the ASCI said "it is not adequately supported. Also, the claim is misleading by exaggeration."

    Pliant and subservient RBI governor loses respect: Raghuram Rajan
    • Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Friday said if a central bank head is "pliant and subservient", he risks losing the respect of his team members. He, however, added that RBI governors, once in office, "develop backbone very quickly". He also advocated protecting the governors' term on the lines of the judiciary.
      Rajan, the first RBI governor not to get a second term in two decades, said certainty of tenure is essential for a central bank chief to perform better.
      "If you are pliant and subservient, you dont get respect from your staff members. How long are you going to be in an institution where people talk behind your back that you are so subservient? So, people (in the office) develop backbone very quickly," Rajan said here late this evening while launching his book I Do What I Do.
      He was answering a question about a scenario where the government may want to place a pliant person as the governor because it feels RBI is impeding its policies. "Institutions give a certain amount of backbone to the leaders. Often, people who are really pounding on the table for finance ministrys rights, when they move over to the governorship, pound on the table for RBIs rights.
      "There are clear examples in our history about people who have switched 180 degrees," said Rajan, who demitted office on September 4 last year after a three-year stint.
      Rajan, who returned to University of Chicago as a professor of finance, also dismissed notions that the six- member monetary policy committee (MPC), with half of its members appointed by the government, is an attempt to exert its control. At the same time, he made a strong pitch for the need to have an independent central bank.
      "What is the purpose of having an independent central bank? Why not do it inside the finance ministry? It is because these guys give you credibility in the market to keep interest rates low. They give you the ability to essentially run a stable economy. You (government) will lose all that (if it manages the central bank).
      "Why then go through the farce of having an independent central bank? Bring it all in (under the finance ministry)! But if you do that, you will become a Zimbabwe," he warned. If an MPC member secretly works as a "stooge" for government, he or she risks "losing reputation", Rajan said.
      Three RBI members in the panel can ensure that its calls get adopted into the final decision as the governor has the casting vote, he said.
      Welcoming appointment of academics to the MPC, Rajan said in future, the government should ensure zero conflict of interest in such appointments and should not appoint traders or heavily indebted industrialists.
      Rajan, who has been vocal about his reservations about demonetisation, said the impact of note ban is a "blip" in economic growth, and hoped that there will not be such surprises in future. Saying that tension has always existed between the RBI and the government, he called for protection of both "term (of governor) and turf (of RBI)" to ensure independence.
      "What is important is to give the governor a term. And always respect that the governor is there for that term. Protect that. In fact, if we strengthen that by making the way we protect our judges, that might be good," he said.
      As RBI governor, he did not go around with a resignation letter in his pocket, he said, while also stating that having "financial security" like the one he enjoys is very important. When asked if he will come out with a tell-all book on his years in the RBI, he said it would be "long way away", and then added with a chuckle "not till the protagonists" are in a different world.

    General Awareness

    Oxford and Cambridge named the best universities in the world; IISc, Bangalore tops Indian universities

    • On 6th September 2017, The World University Rankings 2018 was published by the Times Higher Education (THE).Oxford University and Cambridge University have topped the world rankings. IISc, Bangalore has been named the top university in India.
      University Rankings for 2018:
      Thousand universities from 77 countries were ranked by The Times Higher Education (THE). Of which the US universities have topped the list. This year Chinese universities have made it to the top 30 for the first time.
      Top 5 Global Universities:
      1. Oxford University
      2. Cambridge University
      3. California Institute of Technology, Stanford University
      4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
      Top 5 Indian Universities:
      1. IISc Bangalore
      2. IIT-Bombay
      3. IIT-Delhi
      4. IIT-Kanpur
      5. IIT-Kharagpur
      US Universities’ stand:
      i.The US Universities have managed to top the list again like last year.
      ii.A major part of research funding for Oxford University and Cambridge University come from the European Union.
      iii.Future research support from Trump Government is uncertain. This might affect the US Universities in future.
      Indian Universities’ downfall in the ranking:
      i.Even though IISc has been placed the 1stamong Indian Universities, it has moved down to 251-300 rank slab globally. Last year, IISc was in the 201-250 global rank slab.
      ii.None of the Indian Universities have come in the top 100 ranks.
      iii.The reduction in IISc’s research influence score and research income has lowered its global rank.
      iv.Global ranking is influenced by the internationalization of educational institutions.Internationalization is a measure of how the educational institutions attract foreign students and staff.
      v.Indian Government policy strictly limits the number of students from abroad who can study in India and prevents international scholars from being hired into long-term faculty positions. This has affected internationalization of our institutions and hence led to the lower ranking of our institutions.
      vi.The government has accepted a proposal in August 2017 to establish 20 world class institutions by relaxing regulatory norms and allocating more monetary funds. This brings a hope of attracting more foreign students and faculties to India which will in turn increase the global ranking of our institutions.
      About IISc:
      1. Indian Institute of Science
      2. Location – Bangalore
      3. Founder – Mr.Jamsetji Tata
      4. Director – Mr.Anurag Kumar

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