4 November 2016 – Current Affairs

GST Council fixes 4-rate structure

  • The GST Council has finalised 4-level Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate structure with a multiple-slab rates, including the cess for the new indirect tax regime. Thus, GST will be levied at multiple rates ranging from 0% to 28%. Decision in this regard was taken by the GST Council meeting chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi. The four bands of tax rates have been fixed at 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
  • Nearly half of the consumer inflation basket goods including food grains, will be zero-rated (i.e. 0% GST) to insulate people from inflationary pressures. The lowest slab of 5% will be for items of common consumption. 
  • The bulk of the goods and services including fast-moving consumer goods will be included in two standard rates of 12% and 18%. Ultra luxuries, demerit and sin goods, will attract 28% GST along with a cess for a period of 5 years.
  • The quantum of cess on each of these will depend on current incidence of tax. The revenue raised from the cess will be used to finance the compensations to States for the losses. This cess will have a sunset clause of five years. If the revenue raised from the cess is found to be in excess of the sums then GST Council will decide where to use the surpluses.
  • The GST will subsume the multitude of cesses currently in place, including the Swachh Bharat Cess, Krishi Kalyan Cess and the Education Cess. Only the Clean Environment Cess will be retained and revenues from it will also fund the compensations. The GST Council was not able to take a call on the GST rate on gold. It will be finalised after the fitting to the approved rates structure of all items is completed. 

Paris Agreement on Climate Change enters into force

  • The Paris Agreement to combat climate change officially entered into force after 55 parties to the convention accounting for at least 55% of total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions ratified it. The threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved on 5th October 2016.
  • At present, 94 parties have ratified the convention. India was 62nd country to ratify it on 2 October 2016. It is an international climate deal to combat climate change. It facilitates enforcement of global GHGs reduction measures in the post-2020 i.e. in post Kyoto Protocol scenario.
  • Under it, all countries must pursue to keep global temperature rising below 2°C by 2100 above pre-industrial levels with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C. It forces developed countries to provide 100 billion dollars annually to the developing counterparts beginning in 2020 to deal with climate change.

India’s first titanium project starts test production in Odisha

  • The first titanium project of India has started its test production Ganjam district of Odisha. The project has been established by Saraf Group.
  • This is first of its kind titanium plant and the only one in the country. During the test run, one of its four furnaces became functional. 
  • After inception, this plant is expected to produce 36,000 tons of titanium slag and 20,000 tons of pig iron per year.

PM Narendra Modi inaugurate Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in New Delhi.
  • The conference has been organised by Union Government in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  • AMCDRR will pave the way for implementation of the Sendai framework in the Asian region and will also devise a mechanism for monitoring its progress.

India to host Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties

  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, will be hosting the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7).
  • The Conference will be inaugurated by J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The Conference will be held from Nov 7 to Nov 12 2016, at India Exposition Mart, Greater Noida, District Gautam Buddha Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.

NDTV India ordered to be taken off air for 24 hours

  • An Inter-Ministerial Committee of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry asked for one-day ban on a leading Hindi News Channel, NDTV India from 12.01 A.M. of 9 November to 12.01 A.M. of 10 November 2016.
  • The channel is facing the possibility of a complete blackout for 24 hours for revealing strategically-sensitive information during its coverage of the anti-terror operations at the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
  • The telecast under scanner was aired on 2 January 2016 when Indian military forces were preparing their counter attack strategy at the Pathankot airbase.
  • The order by the Inter-Ministerial Committee claimed that the channel revealed several confidential details like location of the ammunition depot, details of arms cache and fighter planes, details of schools and residential areas located around the airbase, endangering lives of both civilians and defense personnel.

Union Govt to set up $2 bn clean energy equity fund for additional renewable energy

  • Union Govt decided to launch a 2 billion US dollar clean energy equity fund.
  • The fund is being created to support government’s ambitious target of adding 175 GW renewable energy generation capacity by 2022.
  • The government will launch the fund jointly with state-run power entities namely, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and Power Finance Corporation Limited (PFC).
  • In addition, the government is also seeking to collect 4 billion dollar per year in the next 3-4 years for a clean energy fund.

Maharashtra becomes first state to launch cyber police stations in all districts

  • Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to have a cyber-police station in each district to take on cyber criminals.
  • In this regard, state govt is converting 42 state-of-the-art cyber crime labs into cyber police stations simultaneously.
  • These cyber police stations will also be set up at police commissioner and Range IG offices.

Union Govt imposes anti-dumping duty on imports of steel wire rods from China

  • The Union Govt has imposed anti-dumping duty on imports of steel wire rods from China to protect domestic manufacturers from cheap in-bound shipments.
  • In this regard, the Department of Revenue (DoR) has issued a notification mentioning that dumping duty has been imposed for six months.
  • The protectionist measures against cheap Chinese imports were taken based on the recommendation of Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD).

Chinese scholar Xuan Zang stayed in Vijayawada to study Buddhist scriptures

  • Seventh century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and scholar Xuan Zang (also spelled Hsuan Tsang)  stayed a couple of years in Bezawada (the old name of Vijayawada) to copy and study Buddhist scriptures.
  • In 630 AD, Xuan Zang came to India through Kashmir after visiting Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan through the Silk Route.
  • During his stay, he had studied and copied the Abhidhammapitakam, the last of the three pitakas (Pali for baskets) constituting the Pali canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism.

Shamik Chowdhury wins the German Green Talent award

  • Indian researcher Shamik Chowdhury was awarded the German Green Talent Award.
  • His name is among the list of 25 young researchers who have been honoured with the award.
  • The award was conferred to Shamik Chowdhury by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for his innovative approach in sustainable development, resource efficiency, cleaner production and eco-innovation.

Sanjiv Arora appointed as India’s Ambassador to Lebanon

  • Sanjiv Arora, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, was appointed as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Lebanon by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
  • Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a sovereign state in Western Asia.
  • He is expected to take up the assignment shortly.

Mariano Rajoy re-elected as Prime Minister of Spain

  • Mariano Rajoy was re-elected as the Prime Minister of Spain after winning a parliamentary vote.
  • 170 lawmakers voted for him, 111 against and 68 abstained.
  • With this, Spain has its first fully functioning government since December 2015, when a general election left no party with a majority.

Rekha to be awarded DIFF Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Veteran Bollywood actress and Rajya Sabha MP Rekha will be honoured by the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • She will be honoured for her 40-year career contribution and participation in more than 180 films.
  • 2016 DIFF will commence on 7 December 2016 and will conclude on 14 December 2016.

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