July 31, 2018

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NATIONAL NEWS

  1. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is considering a new policy to revamp the entire toll system to improve commuter experience.
    • It has hired Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to prepare a blueprint and suggest the best electronic toll systems for the country and the required infrastructure.
    • NHAI is experimenting with several toll techniques, including closed toll, a GPS-based system, wherein a commuter pays toll based on the distance travelled, and FASTag, an electronic system, which deducts toll fees automatically from a user account.

 

  1. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has decided to restrict use of toluene, titanium acetylacetonate and phthalates in printing of packaging materials used for food products.
    • The above mentioned materials will be included in the existing exclusion list in the current standard (IS 15495).
    • Toluene, which is a chemical that is used in paint thinners, is known to migrate between layers of packaging and potentially cause damage to liver and kidneys in humans.
    • Phthalates are binding agents frequently used in food packaging as well as a number of other products including flooring, adhesives soaps and shampoos.

 

  1. The Tax department put up in public domain draft GST returns formsSahaj and Sugam — for seeking comments from stakeholders.
    • The new tax return forms are likely to be notified for use starting 1 January 2019, though there may be a trial period in December.
    • Taxpayers will have to file a single return form monthly, which will be due for every month on the 20th of the next month
    • Invoices uploaded by the supplier by 10th of the next month will be auto-populated in the return of the supplier. This can also be viewed by the buyer.
    • However, in case an invoice has been uploaded but the return has not been filed, it will be treated as self-admitted liability by the supplier and proceedings will be initiated against him.
    • Sahaj – for salaried people and Sugam – for small businessmen and professionals.

 

  1. Draft e-Commerce Policy
    • To regulate e-commerce industry in India, the government is planning to set up a single regulator to look after issues related to the sector.
    • The draft mentions that bulk purchases of branded goods like mobile phones, white goods, fashion items “by related party sellers which lead to price distortions in a marketplacewill be prohibited.
    • The policy also suggests Indian-owned and Indian-controlled online marketplaces be allowed to hold inventory as long as products are 100% domestically produced.
    • It defines an Indian e-commerce firm as that where foreign investment doesn’t exceed 49%, where the founder/promoter is a resident Indian, and the platform company is controlled by Indian management
    • However, the government has so far not permitted any FDI in inventory-based models.
    • Both the draft e-commerce policy and the Srikrishna panel have suggested that the government would have access to data stored in India for national security and public policy objectives subject to rules related to privacy, and consent.
    • To encourage micro, small and medium enterprises, the draft e-commerce policy recommends allowing them to follow inventory-based models for selling locally produced goods through an online platform.

 

  1. The Prime Minister laid the foundation of India’s first Mobile Open Exchange Zone (MOX)at World Trade Centre, Noida.
    • This is a part of an MoU with World Trade Center, Noida, to develop a ‘tech zone’.

 

  1. Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh launched the Rs. 215 crore Meghalaya Milk Mission in Shillong through National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).
    • In assisting to achieve Centre’s goal of doubling farmer’s income by 2022 through promotion of milk business.

 

  1. Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF)has been taken away from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and brought under the domain of the Finance Ministry.
    • It will now be under the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Finance Ministry.

 

  1. Prabhat Koli became the first Asian to swim the choppy water from Jersey (an Island in the UK) to France in cold weather.

 

  1. Swelect Energy Systems Ltd. has partnered with S.-based Zero Mass Water to unveil ‘Source,’ a hydro (solar) panel to provide pure drinking water using sunlight and air.
    • Water vapour from air is drawn into Source through fans, following which special materials absorb the water.
    • The vapour is collected as the air flow passes through a condenser, then flows into a reservoir where it is mineralised with calcium and magnesium.
    • Water is pumped through a polishing cartridge before being delivered to a dispenser.

 

  1. The Lok Sabha passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to provide the death sentence for rape of girls aged under 12 and enhance the minimum punishment for rape of a woman from seven years to 10.
    • The Bill, once passed by the Rajya Sabha, will replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated in April 2018.
    • The minimum punishment for the rape of a girl under 12 will be 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, the maximum being the death sentence or life imprisonment.
    • Earlier, the punishment was rigorous imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.
    • The minimum punishment under the Bill for the rape of a girl over 16 is 10 years, extendable to life (under Section 376, IPC).
    • The minimum punishment earlier was seven years and the maximum, life imprisonment.
    • The Bill also provides for investigation of rape cases within two months from the registration of an FIR.

 

  1. The Supreme Court is seeking to scrap None Of The Above (NOTA) from Rajya Sabha Elections.

 

  1. The Defence Ministry approved key guidelines for implementation of Strategic Partnership Policy under which select private firms will be roped in to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.
    • The model has been approved by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the ministry’s highest decision making body.
    • According to the guidelines, all procurements under the SP Model would be executed by specially constituted Empowered Project Committees (EPC) to provide focussed attention and ensure timely execution.
    • The SP model has four segments — submarines, single engine fighter aircraft, helicopters and armoured carriers/main battle tanks.
    • In another decision, the DAC gave approval for the acquisition of eight Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV) for the Coast Guard at an approximate cost of ₹800 crore.

 

  1. Eight women farmers have been selected to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines to learn about new rice farming techniques, as part of an initiative by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), a Science Ministry body, to raise the profile of women farmers.
    • According to the Census 2011, 55% of women workers were agricultural labourers and 24% were
    • However, only 12.8% of the operational holdings were owned by women, and 25% this land belonged to the “marginal and small holdings categories.

 

  1. Brindavan Gardens – The Brindavan Gardens is a garden located in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka, India.
    • It lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara dam which is built across the river Kaveri.

 

  1. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) raised the issue of reservation for the Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh.
    • Kapu refers to a social grouping of agriculturists found primarily in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

 

  1. With the water level in the Idukki reservoir touching 2,395 feet, just nine feet short of the full level, an orange alert was issued by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.
    • Red alert’ will be issued if the water level inches closer to 2,400 ft.

 

  1. The Goa government is lobbying with Centre to accord special status to Goa on lines of Mizoram, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh under Article 371 or any other provision of the Constitution of India.
    • Article 371: Special provision with respect to the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat
    • Article 371A: Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland
    • Article 371B: Special provision with respect to the State of Assam
    • Article 371C: Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur
    • Article 371D: Special provision with respect to the State of Andhra Pradesh
    • Article 371E: Establishment of central university in Andhra Pradesh
    • Article 371F: Special provision with respect to the State of Sikkim
    • Article 371G: Special provision with respect to the State of Mizoram
    • Article 371H: Special provision with respect to the State of Arunachal Pradesh
    • Article 371I: Special provision with respect to the State of Goa
    • Article 371J: Special provision with respect to the State of Karnataka

 

  1. The pink bollworm has again attacked cotton plants in Maharashtra this year, causing concern among farmers and the government.
    • Pink bollworm is an insect which chews through the cotton lint to feed on the seeds. Since cotton is used for both fibre and seed oil, the damage is two-fold.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  1. The 3rd BRICS Film Festival was held in Durban, South Africa, along with the International Durban Film Festival (DIFF).
    • The last day of the festival was celebrated as India Country Day.

 

  1. Japanese scientists announced that the first human trial to treat Parkinson’s disease by injecting stem cells into brain.
    • The research team at Kyoto University plans to inject five million induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells, which have the potential to develop into any cell in the body, into a patient’s brain.
    • Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the body’s motor system, often causing shaking and other difficulties in movement.
    • In 2014, Riken, a Japanese government-backed research institution, carried out the world’s first surgery to implant iPS cells to treat a patient with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a common medical condition that can lead to blindness in older people.

 

  1. In a major boost to India, the U.S. eased export controls on high-technology product sales to it by designating it as a Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 country.
    • This comes after the U.S. recognised India as a “Major Defence Partner” in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from the U.S.
    • STA Tier 1 treatment will expand the scope of exports subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that can be made to India without individual licenses.
    • This regulatory change will enhance the bilateral defence trade relationship and result in a greater volume of US exports to India.
    • Currently, 36 countries, mostly all North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations, have this status.

 

 

BANKING AND ECONOMY

  1. Moody’s Investor Service estimates revenue loss from the most recent tax cuts to be about 04 per cent – 0.08 percent of GDP annually.
    • The exchequer incurred a total revenue loss of 70,000 crore from all the rate cuts since the roll-out of GST on 1 July 2017.

 

 

APPOINTMENTS

  1. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) announced that, Surendra Rosha has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer for HSBC India.
  1. Seema Nanda became the first Indian-American woman appointed as the CEO of the Democratic National Committee in recent history.

 

 

SPORTS

  1. The 2018 Russian Open, was a badminton tournament which took place at Sport Hall Olympic in Vladivostok, Russia from 24 to 29 July 2018.
    • Sourabh Verma beat Koki Watanabe to lift the Russian Open Badminton trophy 2018.
  1. World No.1 Dustin Johnson won Canadian Open title.