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Current Affairs - 02 July 2018

General Affairs 

Yogi Adityanath Gives Rs. 51,000 Reward To Girls With 'Sharp Memory'
  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today gave a reward of Rs. 51,000 each to two sisters who are acclaimed for their sharp memory as a part of 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign.
    Honey Singh and Hasi Singh, from Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit district, can answer at least 2000 general knowledge questions in less than one and half hours.

    Yogi Adityanath, who met both the girls today, congratulated the talented duo and wished them for their future and also assured help in the future as well.

    The Chief Minister also assured that the state government will keep helping them in future.

    "I congratulate them. With their talent, they're connected with 'Beti bachao Beti padhao'. State government will support them, they'll be provided bus pass and help of Rs. 51,000 each. In future too the government will keep helping them so that they continue doing well and inspire others," he said.

    The girls, who came along with their father, also expressed their happiness after meeting the Chief Minister.

Centre May Not Move Top Court In Cases With Implication Below Rs. 50 Lakh
  • Seeking to reduce the number of cases in which it is a party, the government may not approach the Supreme Court against high court orders where the financial implication is less than Rs. 50 lakh.
    The government is "actively considering" to increase by five times, the financial threshold of cases to Rs. 50 lakh in which it will move the Supreme Court against verdicts of high courts. As of now, the threshold is Rs. 10 lakh.

    If the proposal is implemented, central departments and ministries will approach the top court only if the financial implication is Rs. 50 lakh and above, a senior government functionary told PTI.

    But if a high court decision overturns a policy, the top should be approached even if the financial implication is negligible, he pointed out.

    Most of the cases involve the Income Tax Department, the Department of Posts, the Defence Ministry and the Railways.

    According to a government data, as on June 12, 2017, a total of 1,35,060 government cases and 369 contempt cases were pending in courts.

    Government litigation includes service matters and conflict with private entities as well as disputes between government departments and between public sector undertakings

    Contempt cases are generally a result of non-adherence to judicial directions and failure to file affidavits on time and appear before courts.

    "Approximately 46 per cent of the total pending cases in courts pertain to the government. These include cases relating to public sector undertakings and other autonomous bodies," said a law ministry document, citing data available on the the government's Legal Information Management and Briefing System.

    Attorney Generral KK Venugopal had recently told his law officers that they should ensure that frivolous appeals planned by ministries related to service matters of individuals do not reach the Supreme Court and special leave petitions are filed only in cases where a policy decision of the government is involved.

    The AG had told additional solicitors general that when the Law Ministry refers proposals of various ministries to file SLPs in the top court challenging a high court order relating to service matter of individuals, the law officers should ensure that frivolous pleas are not allowed to reach the apex court.

    If a Special Leave Petition (SLP) has to be filed by a central ministry or a department, it approaches the Law Ministry which seeks the opinion of one of the additional solicitors general. If the opinion of the ASG is positive, the SLP is filed.

    Over 3.14 crore cases are pending in courts across India.

    In a letter addressed to his Cabinet colleagues heading various ministries, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said, "The government must cease to be a compulsive litigant...The judiciary has to spend its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party, and the burden on the judiciary can only be reduced if the cases are filed after taking a careful and considered view".

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also termed the government as the "biggest litigant" and had pushed for a need to lessen the load on the judiciary which spends its maximum time in deciding cases where the government is a party.

More Than 19,500 Languages Spoken In India: Census
  • More than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India as mother tongue, according to the latest analysis of a census released this week.
    There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India, which has a population of 121 crore, it said.

    The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, said since a household may consist of persons related by blood or of unrelated persons or a mix of both, it is absolutely necessary to ask every person about her or his mother tongue.

    It was required because the mother tongue of each member of a household need not necessarily be the same -- these may be different for different members in the household.

    The number of such raw returns of mother tongue has totalled 19,569, the report of the 2011 census said.

    However, 96.71 per cent population in the country have one of the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue.

    Since mother tongue, as returned in the census, is the designation provided by the respondents of the linguistic mediums in which the respondents think they communicate, they need not be identical with the actual linguistic mediums, it said.

    For assessing the correlation between the mother tongue and designations of the census and for presenting the numerous raw returns in terms of their linguistic affiliation to actual languages and dialects, 19,569 raw returns were subjected to thorough linguistic scrutiny, edit and rationalisation.

    This resulted in 1,369 rationalised languages and dialects as mother tongue and 1,474 names which were treated as "unclassified" and relegated to "other" mother tongue category.

    The 1,369 rationalised languages and dialects were further classified following the usual linguistic methods for rational grouping based on available linguistic information.

    Thus, an inventory of classified mother tongue returned by 10,000 or more speakers are grouped under appropriate languages at the all-India level, wherever possible, has been prepared for final presentation of the 2011 mother tongue data.

    The total number of languages arrived at is 121, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, said.

    The 121 languages are presented in two parts -- languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, comprising 22 languages and languages not included in the Eighth Schedule, comprising of 99 languages plus the category "total of other languages", which includes all other languages which returned less than 10,000 speakers each at the all-India level or were not identifiable on the basis of the linguistic information available.

    The number of scheduled languages was 22 at the time of presentation of the 2001. The same 22 languages are maintained in 2011 census also.

    The non-scheduled languages are 99 in 2011 against 100 in 2001. The decrease in the number is due to exclusion of Simte and Persian, which were not returned in sufficient numbers as 2011, and inclusion of Mao, which has returned more than 10,000 speakers at the all-India level at 2011 census.

    Of the total population of India, 96.71 percent have one of the scheduled languages as their mother tongue, the remaining 3.29 per cent is accounted for other languages.

    There are total 270 identifiable mother tongues which have returned 10,000 or more speakers each at the all-India level, comprising 123 mother tongues grouped under the scheduled languages and 147 mother tongues grouped under the non-scheduled languages.

    Those languages and dialects which have returned less than 10,000 speakers each and which have been classified under a particular language, are included in "others" under that language. 

    The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages -- 

    Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.

    Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution. Sindhi language was added in 1967. Thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992.

    Subsequently, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.

"Milk And Mercedes Can't Be Taxed At Same GST Rate": PM's Dig At Congress
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today ruled out a single tax rate under the GST, saying Mercedes car and milk cannot be taxed at the same rate adding that accepting Congress party' demand for a uniform 18 per cent rate would lead to a spike in food and essential items' taxation.
    PM Modi said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has within one year of its launch led to over 70 per cent jump in indirect taxpayer base, demolished check-posts and merged 17 taxes and 23 cesses into one single tax.

    The new tax regime, which subsumed central levies like excise duty and service tax and state taxes like VAT, is aimed at making indirect taxation "simple" while eliminating the 'Inspector Raj', he said, adding the GST is an evolving system which is calibrated based on feedback from state governments, trades and other stakeholders.

    "It would have been very simple to have just one slab but it would have meant we could not have food items at zero per cent tax rate. Can we have milk and Mercedes at the same rate?

    "So, when our friends in Congress say that they will have just one GST rate, they are effectively saying they will tax food items and commodities, which are currently at zero or 5 per cent, at 18 per cent," he said in an interview to 'Swarajya' magazine.

    PM Modi, according to a part-transcript of the 45 minute interview posted by Swarajya on its website, said against a total of 66 lakh indirect taxpayers registered since independence, 48 lakh new enterprises have registered since the launch of the GST on July 1, 2017.

    "Around 350 crore invoices were processed and 11 crore returns were filed. Would we be looking at such numbers, if GST were indeed very complex?" he asked. "Check-posts across the country have been abolished and there are no more queues at state borders. Not only are truck drivers saving precious time but also the logistics sector is getting a boost and thereby increasing the productivity of our country. Would this be happening if GST was complex?"

    To a query on criticism of GST implementation, he said the new tax regime was a massive change, requiring a complete reset of one of the world's largest economic systems.

    "The reform merged 17 taxes, 23 cesses into one single tax. When it was finally introduced, it was our endeavour to make it simple and ensure sensitivity of the system. There are often teething troubles seen when a reform of this magnitude is carried out, but these issues were not only identified but also addressed in real time," he said.

    The GST, he said, has seen Indian cooperative federalism at its best. "We consolidated the states and developed proactively a consensus, where earlier governments had failed."

    The Prime Minister said earlier many taxes were hidden and under the GST, "what you see is what you pay."

    "The government has reduced taxes on nearly 400 groups of items. Around 150 groups of items have zero per cent tax rate. If you look at the rates, for most of the day-to-day commodities, the rate has actually come down. Be it rice, wheat, sugar, spices, etc, total tax levied has been reduced in most cases. Large number of items of daily usage are either exempted or in 5 per cent slab. Some 95 per cent items fall in/below the 18 per cent slab," he said.

    The GST, he said, has been designed to eliminate 'Inspector Raj' with the help of information technology. From returns to refund, everything happens online, the PM said.

174 VIPs Want New Railway Zones, Divisions, Officials Cry 'Politics'
  • In three years, there were demands by over 170 VIPs including Sachin Tendulkar, Shashi Tharoor, Nitin Gadkari and Yogi Adityanath for new railway zones and divisions in their constituencies that are under consideration of the railway board, according to railway ministry records.
    Railway officials, however, said most of these demands are "motivated by political reasons" and "regional considerations cannot override operational requirements of railways".

    From 2014-2017 (till March 31, 2017) demands were received from 55 VIPs for new zones and from 119 VIPs for new divisions.

    "Creating railway zones is a political compulsion. Committees formed by the railway board earlier in their reports have not only said that creating more zones was not financially or operationally feasible, but they have also urged the board to reduce the number of existing zones. Still, the demands have been coming in," a former Railway Board member told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

    "Railway zones created in 2002-2003 and after, have all been done for political reasons and there were no technical or operational considerations involved in the decisions," the former Board member said.

    Indian Railways ' operations are currently divided into 17 zones, which are further sub-divided into divisions, each having a divisional headquarters. There are a total of 73 divisions at present. In 2002-2003, seven new zones and eight new divisions were created and the Salem division was added in 2007.

    During 2009-2013, 92 requests for new zones and 45 new divisions were made. These were examined by a committee formed in 2012. The committee in its report had said that "none of the requests were justified".

    The cost of infrastructure for creating a new zone, according to an internal assessment of railways will be around Rs. 205 crore while creating a new division will cost the national transporter around Rs. 29 crore. These figures exclude extra cost of relating to creating or upgrading of posts, transfer, posting of staff and other costs.

    The VIPs who have approached the railway ministry with their demands include members of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, officers on special duty, private secretaries of senior leaders, chief ministers, cabinet ministers and even the junior minister for railways Rajen Gohain.

    While Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari sought a new zone as well as a new division in Nagpur, Mr Gohain wanted a separate zone in the northeast region. Cricket icon and former Rajya Sabha member Sachin Tendulkar batted for a zone in Mumbai suburban while Shashi Tharoor asked for a zone as well as a division in Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur respectively.

    Others who made similar demands include former additional private secretary of BJP leader LK Advani (for a new zone in Gujarat), Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath (division in Gorakhpur), Union minister Jitendra Singh (division in Udhampur) and Congress leader Motilal Vora (new zone in Jhansi).

    On the feasibility of these demands, a railway official said, "While these VIPs ask for new zones and divisions motivated by political reasons they have no idea how it can be made operationally feasible. Regional considerations cannot override operational requirements of railways. The dilution of administrative and operational control not only results in sub-optimum utilisation of costly assets and manpower but also the safety of passengers is compromised. These VIPs then themselves question the railways about cost of operations and safety issues."

Business Affairs

One year of GST: Tax base increase to complex return filing system; the successes and the failures
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) completes one year today. Being a major tax reform, critics and supporters alike would sit back and analyse the successes and failures of the new tax regime unveiled amidst a lot doubts, resistance and chaos.

    Has the government achieved any of the targets that it had set when the tax overhaul was planned or has it just managed to hurry through a 'reform' without any proper planning as many critics point out?

    Let's look back at some of the successes and failures of GST in the last one year:

    Successes

    Broadening of tax base: In one year, the GST has already seen the number of registered tax payers jumping to over 1.12 crore from 64 lakh under the earlier tax regime. This in itself is a 40% increase in the number of tax-payers. This is no mean feat by any standard.

    "A total of 1,12,15,693 taxpayers stand registered with the GST system today in which 63,76,967 are the ones who have migrated from previous tax regimes and 48,38,726 are the ones who have entered the new tax regime in the first year of GST indicating towards a significant increase in active taxpayer base," says Dr A B Pandey, Chairman, GSTN, the entity that controls the GST's IT infrastructure.

    Increase in compliance: Despite the many technological glitches in the GST IT system and taxpayers unfamiliarity with the system, the number of returned filed on due date steadily increased over the past one year. The compliance level on due date reached an average of 65% by April this year from around 55-57% in September-October last year.

    Tax collection on the rise: The average monthly tax collection in the first year has been around Rs 90,000 crore, a steady increase after the monthly tax collections fell below Rs 85,000 crore in December 2017. Tax collected for the month of April was Rs 94,000 crore better than the first nine month average of Rs 89,000 crore. Experts believe with e-way bill at place and the IT system finally settling down this is only going to improve.

    However, it is still below the Rs 1.04 lak crore necessary to achieve the Centre's budget target for GST collection of Rs 7.44 lakh crore.

    Failures

    Underprepared IT system: The biggest failure of GST implementation has been the unpreparedness of the IT backbone. It led to a lot of confusion, delays and deferments. The invoice uploading has to be delayed, refunds are getting delayed because the absence of many features in the IT system, a roper return filing mechanism has been not been in place yet.

    Too many tax rates: Almost all experts and commentators including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley believe that India cannot have a single rate GST, but six GST rates - 0%, 3%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% -- is nowhere near the kind of GST this government set out to implement. This has only compounded the confusion of taxpayers many of whom are still facing problem complying with the GST.

    Refunds still in mess: GST refunds mechanism remains a weak link in the whole GST system. Exporters are specially finding it difficult to get their refunds on time. A lot of this is because of the problem in the GSTN's software.

    "More than Rs 10,000 crore could be stuck due to software challenges. There are exporters who have been waiting for last 12 months for their refunds and there are exporters, who are unable to file his claim due to non-modification of the software," says Dr Ajay Sahai, director general and CEO of Federation of Indian Exporters Organistaion (FIEO).

    The law requires that 90 per cent of the refunds claimed should be provisionally granted within seven days of submission of application, and 100 per cent should be granted in two months. Experts say that the system as laid down in the law is not at all functional.

    Return filing system yet not in place: It has been more than a year and the return filing mechanism is yet to be in place. The matching system, the cornerstone of GST and a key to its success is yet to be in place. Government is provisionally giving ITC credits, and there is fear that many of the ITC claims could be fake and fictitious.

    The final return filing system, which would have the invoice matching system, may take another one year to be in place.

    Too many changes: Too many changes in GST law and tax rates within a year have already unsettled taxpayers as well as the GST Network, the IT backbone of GST. There have been more than 400 notifications, over 100 circulars and FAQs issued so far. Already new rate categories have been carved out, products and services have been moved from one tax bucket to another, the list under 28% tax bracket has been drastically cut. The refund filing mechanism, the due dates and the forms have been changed several times. There are already talks of many more changes in the future, many of which are against the architecture of GST.

    Issac Thomas, finance minister of Kerala, told Business Today, "There is already talk of all sorts of changes like special cesses, incentives, etc which are against the architecture of GST. There are discussions changes in the rate structure. You have not been able to finalise your return form within a year, e-way bill has just came into existence, one does not know for sure if annual returns would be there. In the absence of all these, there is no way you can scrutinise any revenue. Let the things settle down first."

No need to share Aadhaar number for new SIM; Virtual ID enabled for telcos, banks to follow suit
  • The Unique Identification Authority of India on Friday made it mandatory for all the telecom operators and e-sign service providers to start accepting virtual ID from July 1 instead of the Aadhaar number. However, other service providers including banks will have time until August 31 to deploy the new feature. Virtual ID is a critical security measure for protecting people's privacy and their Aadhaar information. With the introduction of Virtual ID, Aadhaar number holders will have an option of not sharing their unique identity number and instead they can generate a virtual ID and share it with authentication user agencies to perform Aadhaar-based authentication.

    This year in January, the UIDAI had announced that it would introduce Virtual ID feature which an Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and produce for various authentication purposes instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID.

    In a circular dated June 29, the UIDAI said virtual ID (VID) system is operational with authentication user agencies which have migrated to VID and UID token using the software (Auth API 2.5 and e-KYC API 2.5) that supports new VID capability. The authority has also classified all authentication agencies registered with it into two heads -- global or local. Banks have been categorised as global authentication user agency (AUAs) and telecom companies amongst local AUAs for the purpose of authentication and KYC entitlement.

    As per the norms laid down by the UIDAI, global AUAs will be allowed access to complete KYC with Aadhaar number, and the entities classified as local AUAs will have limited access to KYC details of customers. The UIDAI in its circular has stated that those telecom companies and e-sign providers that have not implemented the VID system shall be charged Rs 0.20 for every transaction performed after July 1. However, in case they are able to fully migrate to the new platform by July 31, the entire authentication transaction charges imposed for the above said period of July 1-31, 2018, shall be waived.

    The UIDAI has further cautioned that in case the service provider fails to migrate fully to the new system by August 31, the authority "shall be free to take actions under the Aadhaar Act including imposition of financial disincentives and termination of license key". The UIDAI had previously said that all agencies that undertake authentication will start accepting VIDs from their users from June 1, 2018 but had then decided to give one extra month (till July 1) for its deployment, after the user agencies said they needed more time to switch to the new system.

    The authority has instructed all authentication agencies to make necessary changes in front-end application to accept Aadhaar number as well as Virtual ID, and in backend application to accept UID token and limited KYC data immediately. Once the new feature is fully implemented, it will allow Aadhaar holders to create and produce a random 16-digit number without actually disclosing their Aadhaar number for any authentication. A person can generate as many VIDs as he or she wants, and the older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.

GST mop-up at Rs 95,610 crore in June, vying for Rs 1 lakh crore: Hasmukh Adhia
  • GST revenue mop-up rose to Rs 95,610 crore in June from Rs 94,016 crore in the previous month, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said today.

    In April 2018, the collections from Goods and Services Tax (GST) were over Rs 1.03 lakh crore.

    The total number of GSTR-3B returns filed for the month of May up to June 2018 is 64.69 lakh, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    "The total gross revenue collected in the month of June 2018 is Rs 95,610 crore," Adhia said.

    The average monthly GST collections have been Rs 89,885 crore in the previous fiscal, which saw revenues at Rs 7.41 lakh crore in the July-March period.

    In June, total revenues earned by the Centre and states after settlement are Rs 31,645 crore for Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Rs 36,683 crore for State Goods and Services Tax (SGST), the ministry said.

    Of the total Rs 95,610 crore gross revenue collected in June, Rs 15,968 crore is on account of CGST, Rs 22,021 crore SGST, Rs 49,498 crore (including Rs. 24,493 crore collected on imports) on account of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) and Rs 8,122 crore from cess.

    Adhia said that Rs 1 lakh crore revenue is "not the norm still". "We hope to bring it (GST revenue) to the level of Rs 1 lakh crore (every month), he said while addressing the GST Day celebrations here.

    Adhia also said if bogus bills are not issued, then revenues would improve further in the coming months.

    During his speech, the secretary also acknowledged the efforts of stakeholders, central and state tax officers and business community in making GST, which was rolled out on July 1 last year, a success.

    In the month of June 2018, additional provisional settlement has been done and Rs 50,000 crore has been settled between the Centre and states. This is in addition to the earlier provisional settlement of Rs 35,000 crore in February 2018, the ministry added.

PNB scam: Developments in favour in US bankruptcy case of Nirav Modi firm, says bank MD Sunil Mehta
  • Punjab National Bank MD Sunil Mehta has said there are "positive developments" in favour of the lender pertaining to bankruptcy case filed in the US by Nirav Modi's firm Firestar Diamond Inc.

    Firestar Diamond is a group company of billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is accused of defrauding PNB of about Rs 14,000 crore, the biggest ever banking fraud of the country.

    Soon after the multi-crore fraud was unearthed by the bank, the US-based Firestar Diamond Inc filed for bankruptcy under Chaper 11 in the New York Southern Bankruptcy Court in the last week of February.

    Subsequently, the bank approached the court to make it one of the party as it was of the view that the group used a part of the fraud money to run the Firestar Diamond Inc.

    "With regard to our plea in the bankruptcy proceedings in the US, there are positive developments. Our bank has become a party to the case and our submission in the case related to bankruptcy proceedings of Firestar Diamond Inc is being looked at. Our voice is being heard," he told PTI.

    Citing it as one of the major positive developments, Mehta said the US court has made it very clear that money will not be distributed among creditors of Firestar Diamond Inc till money trail is clearly established.

    "This gives us hope that if we are able to establish that the fraud money was used to run the operation of Firestar Diamond Inc, then the bank will be able to get something out of the insolvency proceedings," he said.

    Prodded further, Mehta said, "Since the matter is subjudice so it would be difficult to say anything beyond this."

    Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, in connivance with certain bank officials, allegedly cheated PNB of about Rs 14,000 crore through issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs). A Mumbai branch of PNB had fraudulently issued LoUs for the group of companies belonging to Nirav Modi since March 2011.

    The total number of LoUs issued to the companies of Nirav Modi, his relatives and the Nirav Modi Group are 1,213, and to Mehul Choksi, his relatives and the Gitanjali Group are 377.

    With regards to provision made for the loss incurred on account of Nirav Modi fraud, the bank provided Rs 7,178 crore, 50 per cent of the total amount of Rs 14,356 crore in the fourth quarter of 2017-18. The remaining amount will be covered in the three quarters of the current fiscal year.

    PNB paid Rs 6,586.11 crore to other banks to discharge its liabilities towards Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) issued fraudulently and in unauthorised manner to certain overseas branches of Indian banks through the misuse of SWIFT system of the bank, which was then not integrated with CBS (Core Banking Solution).

B Sriram assumes office as MD and CEO of IDBI Bank
  • B Sriram, the newly appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of IDBI Bank, assumed charge on Sunday, a regulatory filing by the bank said. He has been appointed to the position for a term of three months. He is to replace Mahesh Kumar Jain, who recently took charge as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

    Sriram stepped down as the Managing Director (Corporate and Global Banking) of State Bank of India, a post he held since July 2014. As per reports so far, his resignation from the board of the biggest lender in India was accepted with immediate effect after being forwarded to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for approval.

    Notably, Sriram assuming charge as the MD and CEO of IDBI Bank came close on the heels of the decision by the board of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to allow Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) to hold majority stake in the state-run bank. As of now, the insurance behemoth holds 10.82 per cent stake in IDBI bank and is looking to increase it to 51 per cent under a government divestment scheme.

    IDBI Bank, which has been struggling with burgeoning bad loans, will be looking up to Sriram to save the day with this vast reserve of experience. The longest-serving MD in the Indian public banking sector, Sriram is known for his stressed asset management strat

    General Awareness

    Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
    • Context: OPCW has granted itself new powers to assign blame for attacks, despite protests by Russia. Until now, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) could only say whether chemical weapons were used – but not who had used them.

      Significance of the move:

      This is an important step forward for arms control. It strengthens the unravelling consensus against the use of chemical weapons. It marks a victory for the rules-based international order, which itself is under increasing strain given the rise of populists and nationalism in many countries.

      About OPCW:

      The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.
      The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.
      The Convention contains four key provisions:

      Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW.
      Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging.
      Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats.
      Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims: OPCW.
      For Mains: Chemical weapons- threats, concerns and international efforts to regulate them.

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