Current Affairs Current Affairs - 27 May 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 27 May 2018

General Affairs 

Dead Bats In Himachal Pradesh Not Infected With Nipah Virus: Official
  • Tests in the National Institute of Virology in Pune have ruled out bats, found dead in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district, were carrying the Nipah virus, an official said on Saturday.

    The institute said the bats died of some other reason.

    Panic spread as several bats were found dead at Government Senior Secondary School in Barmapapri this week.

    Samples from dead bats in Sirmaur were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology for testing and all the samples were reported negative for the Nipah virus, according to an official statement quoting Additional Chief Secretary BK Agarwal.

    He has advised people not to panic about the Nipah virus, adding all medical colleges in the state are prepared to deal with the situation, if it occurs.

Rate My Government, Says PM Modi In 4th Anniversary Poll On His App
  • On the occasion of his government's fourth anniversary today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a survey on his app, asking people to rate the performance of the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre and MPs and MLAs in their constituencies.

    "It is your voice that counts! Tell me what you feel about the working of the central government, its initiatives and the development work in your constituency. Take part in this survey on the NaMo app," PM Modi tweeted his government's fourth anniversary today.

    Giving details, official sources said the survey has also asked the people to list three most-popular BJP leaders in their states and constituencies, and rate them on the basis of availability, honesty, humility and popularity.

    The survey on the app enables the people to rate the performance of the central government and its flagship schemes, the sources said.

    This is being done to gauge the people's views about the government, respective states and constituencies, they said.

    The survey gives a chance to the people to rate the work of their MPs and MLAs while also asking them to list their prime considerations when they vote, the sources said, adding that the participants can also rate the condition of various amenities and infrastructure in their constituency.

    From seeking to know what the people think of the flagship programmes of the central government to trying to understand whether they perceive a change in culture of governance, the survey covers a whole spectrum of questions, they said.

    The survey assumes significance as the BJP prepares for the Lok Sabha polls, which are due in less than a year.

    The Narendra Modi App has been a connectivity platform of choice for the prime minister who has often interacted with the masses as well as his party's functionaries through it, the sources said.

    They noted that millions of people had participated in a survey hosted on the app in the wake of demonetisation, which was carried out in November 2016.

Rahul Gandhi Report Card For PM Modi Is Mostly 'F's With Some Exceptions
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi's report card for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government completing four years had four 'F's, two 'A's and one 'B' and plenty of bite. Hours before the Prime Minister launched a blistering attack on the Congress and other opposition parties in a public address in Odisha, the Congress chief posted the sarcastic tweet.

    Mr Gandhi gave an 'F' to the Prime Minister for agriculture, foreign policy and job creation. However, for "slogan creation" and "self-promotion", Mr Gandhi gave the Modi government 'A+'.

    As "remarks", he added: "Master communicator; struggles with complex issues; short attention span."

    PM Modi's government marked four years in office with a number of events across the country.

     4 Yr. Report Card

    Agriculture:            F
    Foreign Policy:       F
    Fuel Prices:            F
    Job Creation:         F

    Slogan Creation:   A+
    Self Promotion:     A+
    Yoga:                      B-

    Master communicator; struggles with complex issues; short attention span.

    The Congress also said people now know that the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo was harmful for the country after four years of the NDA rule, which it described as a period of "treachery, trickery, revenge and lies".

    Releasing a booklet titled 'India Betrayed', Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot and Randeep Surjewala said an atmosphere of fear and hatred has been created under the NDA rule.

    Asked about Mr Gandhi's attack, BJP chief Amit Shah at a news briefing said, "What do you expect from the opposition?"

    "I have given the facts and figures of the works of the (Narendra) Modi government in last four years. And we are ready to debate on the basis of these facts and figures with them on any platform," he said.

Anna Hazare Reminds Prime Minister Narendra Modi Of "Unkept Promises"
  • As the National Democratic Alliance government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed four years in office today, veteran social activist Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare sent him a strong reminder of several "unkept promises".

    In a detailed letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Hazare said that after his week-long hunger strike at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi in March, the government had assured that it would set up a high-level expert committee to look into farmers' demands including granting autonomy to Commission for Agriculture Costs & Prices (CACP).

    However, till date, nearly two months after the agitation, he said, that nothing had been done in the matter, including determining the minimum support price to farmers, fixation of a 50 percent higher remuneration price, insurance cover for farmers above age of 60, etc.

    "In fact, during your election campaigns, you had made various assurances, including setting up a committee on the recommendations of M.S. Swaminathan Commission and also given it to me in writing, but it has not been implemented yet. There is no information whether the committee has been formed or not," Mr Hazare said.

    He reminded that these promises have to be fulfilled before Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary on October 2, as assured by the government.

    The 80-year-old Hazare said that the government had assured it would put up the issue of waiving GST on tools used for agricultural purposes within four months before the GST Committee, and sought to know what action has been initiated in this so far.

    Recalling PM Modi's assurance on the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayukta, he said that the selection committee is headed by the PM, but owing to unfilled posts, these crucial appointments are still pending.

    "You have given big full-page ads in the newspapers on your government's achievements in four years. But it's a matter of regret that in past four years, the government has failed to appoint Lokpal and Lokayukta, which you had categorically assured in your election campaigns. It seems your government is not keen on a 'corruption-free' India," Mr Hazare noted sharply.

    He demanded that the appointments of Lokpal and Lokayukta, as promised by PM Modi for every state, must be done before October 2, failing which he would launch a fresh agitation in his native village Ralegan-Siddhi here that day.

    Mr Hazare pointed out that he had already sent two reminder letters earlier to the government on these issues, but there was no response.

    The copies of the letter to the Prime Minister have been sent to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

National Security Crucial But War With Pakistan Last Option, Says Amit Shah
  • BJP President Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Narendra Modi-led government has "zero tolerance" towards national security but "a war with Pakistan is the last option".

    "We have zero tolerance for national security. The maximum number of militants have been killed in the state in last four years of our government. War with Pakistan is the last option," he said addressing a press conference on the completion of four years of the NDA government.

    He was replying to a question over the repeated ceasefire violations by the Pakistan on the international border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and whether war with Pakistan was an option.

    When asked about the Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacking the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in his report card, Shah said, "What do you expect from the opposition?"

    "I have given the facts and figures of the works of the (Narendra) Modi government in last four years. And we are ready to debate on the basis of the these facts and figures with them on any platform," he said.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party President also dubbed as "false" reports of Modi government spending over Rs. 4,600 crore on advertisements to mark the completion of four years in office.

    "These figures are not correct," he said without elaborating.

    Mr Shah also said that there is "no atmosphere of fear" in the country as alleged by the opposition. 

    "But there is fear among those who are holding benami properties, those who are holding black money as the government has brought bills against them," he said.

    Mr Shah also described south as an important area for the BJP's expansion. "South is an important area for the BJP. The party winning 104 seats in Karnataka assembly polls, I think, is a good symbol for the party to flourish in the southern states."

    Mr Shah also said that the BJP government brought political stability in the country.

    "There was a time when the national dailies were filled with news of corruption. But after this government came to power, no such news of corruption came," he said. 

    "Modi brought political stability. He took the country forward from the era of policy paralysis to policy driven development," he said.

    Describing PM Modi as the most popular Prime Minister, Mr Shah said, "For the first time after 30 years, a government with full majority came to power in the Centre. And Modi is the most hard working and popular Prime Minister of the country. He is a visionary."

    "And it is his work that people have chosen the BJP government in 20 states of the country. The BJP is currently ruling over 65 per cent of the total population," he added.

Business Affairs

Including petrol, diesel in GST won't reduce prices much, says Sushil Modi
  • Incessant rise in petrol and diesel prices have forced the government to explore solutions that would provide some relief to the buyers. The list of possible courses of action include bringing petroleum products under the ambit of Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has argued that GST would not have much impact in reducing petrol and diesel prices.

    "It is a big misconception (among the people) that price of petroleum products will be reduced significantly if they are brought under GST ambit. Instead, the move will have minor impact in terms of reducing prices of petroleum products," said Sushil Modi, who also heads the GST Network panel.

    He further added, "Under the GST regime, there is a practice across the world which empowers states to impose tax over and above the highest GST tax rate. This has been the practice followed everywhere in the world where GST has been implemented."

    Modi, who is also Bihar's Finance Minister, was replying to a query during the 64th quarterly State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) meeting as to whether the government is contemplating bringing petroleum products under the GST regime.

    He said that the issue of whether or not to include petroleum products under GST will be decided by the GST Council. Petroleum products, along with alcohol, real estate, and electricity have been kept out of the GST regime.

    "There is unanimity in the GST Council that petroleum products will not be brought under GST regime until it (the new GST regime) stabilises," Modi said.

    Contrastingly, union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal have reiterated that the government is considering bringing petrol and diesel under the GST regime to control their prices, according to a IANS report. Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has already revealed a similar plan recently.

PM Modi has ensured 'scam-free' governance, says Arun Jaitley on govt's 4th anniversary
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today put out his reflections on the Narendra Modi-led NDA government's four years in office. He said that in the last four years, Prime Minister Modi has transformed India from being a part of the 'fragile five' to a 'bright spot' on the global economic scene. 

    Fragile five was a reference used in 2014 for five emerging economies that were not doing well and were heavily dependent on foreign investment for economic growth.  Jaitley today said that a regime of policy paralysis has been transformed into one of decisions and actions. 

    Hitting out at the Congress, the Finance Minister said that the ten years of the UPA rule had unquestionably witnessed the most corrupt government since Independence. "Prime Minister Modi created transparent systems through legislative and institutional changes which have given our country a scam-free governance," he further said.

    He said India is fast transforming from a tax non-compliant society to a tax-compliant society. The enactment and implementation of GST, the impact of demonetisation, effective tax compliance are all steps against black money, steps which are formalising the Indian economy, the Minister said.

    Jaitley underlined the achievements of the current dispensation and said that the financial inclusion of people - women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribe, minorities and other weaker sections- unparalleled infrastructure development, fiscal consolidation and securing rights of all sections of society have been the highlights of the four years of transparent government under Prime Minister Modi.  

    Making a veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi, the Finance Minister said that the Congress President must remember that taxes don't go into the pocket of the government. "They go back to the people for better infrastructure, better social sector expenditure and poverty reduction programmes," he said. 

    Jaitley's statement came days after Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Modi government for excise duty on petroleum products. 

    In a separate post on Facebook, the Finance Minister said that the fifth and last year of the current term will be 'our year of consolidation of the policies and programmes which we have implemented'.

I-T Department releases all seven ITR forms for e-filing
  • The Income Tax Department today launched and activated all the seven ITR forms for e-filing by taxpayers, after more than a month of them being notified.

    The Central Board of Direct Taxes had notified the new Income Tax Return forms for the assessment year 2018-19 on April 5.

    "All ITRs for AY 2018-19 are now available for e-filing," the department said in a statement.

    The tax department has launched the ITR forms gradually since April 5 as the taxpayers have been looking forward to file their returns before the stipulated deadline of July 31.

    All seven ITRs are to be filed electronically on the official web portal of the department - - except for some category of taxpayers, the CBDT had said.

    The new ITR forms mandate the salaried class assesses to provide their salary breakup, and businessmen their GST number and turnover.

    The ITR-1 called 'Sahaj' is largely used by the salaried class of taxpayers with income up to Rs 50 lakh from salary, one house property only and additional income such as interest earned from fixed deposits and recurring deposits.

    This time, the ITR-1 form seeks an assessee's details in separate fields such as allowances not exempt, profit in lieu of salary and value of prerequisites among others.

    This form was used by three crore taxpayers during the last financial year.

    Similarly, the ITR-2 form is used by individuals and Hindu Undivided families (HUFs), who have income from any sources except income from profits and gains of business or profession, including NRIs.

    Individuals and HUFs having income under the head business or profession can file either ITR-3 or ITR-4 in presumptive income cases.

    The rest of the forms are for different category of taxpayers.

    The CBDT, which makes policy for the tax department, had said that some fields have been "rationalised" in the latest forms and that there is no change in the manner of filing of the ITRs as compared to last year.

    In case of non-resident taxpayers, the requirement of furnishing details of "any one" foreign bank account has been provided for the purpose of credit of refund.

    The requirement of furnishing details of cash deposits made during a specified period (in the wake of the note ban of 2016) as provided in the ITR form for the AY 2017-18 has been "done away with" this time.

    The field to either mention the 12-digit Aadhaar number or the 28-digit enrolment Aadhaar ID has been retained in the new forms.

    The CBDT had said individual taxpayers of 80 years or more at any time during the previous year or an individual or HUF, whose income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh and who has not claimed any refund, can file ITRs in the paper form, using the ITR-1 or ITR-4.

Walmart is the US version of The East India Company, says traders body CAIT
  • Weeks after Walmart acquired majority stake in Flipkart, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Friday called the American retail giant 'a US version of The East India Company'.  In a letter to Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, the traders body said: "Walmart is nothing but a US version of The East India Company which conquered the country." 

    Flipkart sold its 77 per cent stake to US-based Walmart in USD 16 billion deal earlier this month.

    The CAIT fears that Walmart will penetrate the retail trade through e-commerce and indulge in predatory pricing with deep discounting which will eventually create an uneven playing field for domestic players. "It will source globally the cheapest material and will dump in the country to wipe out the competition. As of now, no rule or law exists which can put restrictions on such practises of any company," the letter stated.

    Accusing the US giant of having hidden agenda, the traders body said: "CAIT has decided to challenge Walmart-Flipkart deal since the deal is circumventing laws and will offend FDI policy once it is implemented and will create an uneven level playing field beside accomplishing hidden agenda of Walmart to reach out to offline trade through e-commerce way." 

    The body also demanded that a national policy for e-commerce be framed at the earliest and a regulatory authority be constituted to regulate the online retail business in India. "...and till such time, the deal should be put in abeyance by the Government and a close scrutiny should be held in the entire deal," it said.

    This is the second letter the CAIT has written to Commerce Minister Prabhu. Earlier on May 7, the traders body had sought Suresh Prabhu's intervention ahead of the Flipkart-Walmart deal. It then said that the deal would encourage malpractices and predatory pricing in e-commerce industry. 

    The CAIT had argued that the government should make it mandatory that such deals can take place only when 75 per cent of the sellers on an e-platform give their assent since they would be the worst sufferers.

    "In order to ensure free and fair e-commerce business in the country, we suggest that a policy for e-commerce should be finalised at an early date in consultation with all stakeholders including the trading community," the body had said.

    The CAIT has also challenged the deal in Competition Commission of India.

Railways draws action plan to increase coal supply to power plants
  • With coal stock of some power stations in the national capital region falling to an alarming level, the Railways has drawn up an action plan to increase supply of rakes to power plants in northern India, including Dadri.

    The Centre has also ensured that the power plants will get adequate supplies of the dry-fuel.

    "NTPC has entered into an MoU with Railways regarding supply of rakes. NTPC furnishes a monthly requirement for each plant. As per the loading plan given by NTPC for May 18, 5 rakes per day are to be supplied to Dadri. The supply to Dadri plant till 24th May is 4.95 rakes per day. Nonetheless, rake supplies to Dadri have been further stepped up in the last few days, " a Railways official told PTI.

    Yesterday, he said, eight rakes reached Dadri, the official said.

    The power houses -- Dadri and Badarpur -- will get adequate supplies of coal, the official said.

    One rake, which has around 59 wagons, can carry around 4,000 tonnes of coal.

    "This momentum is being maintained and 6-7 rakes are targeted for Dadri daily," the official added.

    "As far as Badarpur (thermal power station) is concerned there is requirement of 1.5 rakes per day but we are planning to supply two rakes to this power station per day," the official said.

    In view of the coal shortage situation in some power plants, action plans have been drawn up for immediately increasing coal supplies to power houses in North India, especially for Dadri and Badarpur power houses, the official said.

    "Loading of all commodities except power house coal for destinations reached via MGS (Mughalsarai) to be restricted with immediate effect till 29th May. Northern Railways (Lucknow and Moradabad divisions) and NCR (Allahabad division) should not plan any traffic blocks for 2 days to facilitate increased freight movement," the official said.

    The action plan includes around the clock manning of controls in these divisions by operating officers and "ECR (East Central Railways) to ensure loading and handing over of 8-9 Dadri and 2 Badarpur loads daily, he noted.

    Concerned zones are requested to ensure compliance, the official added.

    Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain had yesterday said that the coal stock at some power stations in the national capital region has dipped to an "alarming" level and if it is not replenished at the earliest, Delhi could be staring at "black-out" situations.

    Jain had said that he has already written to Coal and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal apprising him about the situation and sought his intervention into the matter.

    General Awareness

    RIMPAC naval exercises
    • Context: The United States has decided to disinvite China from participating in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, held near Hawaii. The decision to withdraw the invitation extended to China was made in response to Chinese activity in the South China Sea.


      China first participated in the RIMPAC exercises in 2014, as noted by The Diplomat. Back then China’s participation was lauded and viewed as a step toward cooperation. In Asia’s current climate, these exercises are especially important. Tension in both the South China Sea and East China Sea tends to increase during summer months, when activity is on the rise due to the presence of fishing and trade vessels.

      What is RIMPAC?

      RIMPAC is the world’s largest set of international maritime war games. The exercises occur every two years and are led by the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. They are seen as a unique opportunity for Pacific Rim nations to cooperate as they train and work together to solve problems. Also, the games are seen as a way of ensuring open access to important shipping lanes in Asia’s increasingly contested waters.  The exercises are also a display of power — in the sense that participants are able to understand the technological capabilities of other participants — and thus perhaps act as a deterrent to further aggressive action.

      Observer nations: Several observer nations are usually invited, including China, Ecuador, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Russia. While not contributing any ships, observer nations are involved in RIMPAC at the strategic level and use the opportunity to prepare for possible full participation in the future.

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