Current Affairs Update - 1st July 2017
July 1 to be observed as GST Day: CBEC
- As India transits to a new era with rollout of GST, the government is leaving no stone unturned for a smooth switchover and has asked tax offices to convert into GST Seva-Kendras to provide all assistance to tax payers.
- While the rollout day of 1 July will be known as ‘GST Day’, all the offices of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) have been instructed to be open on Saturday as a trade facilitation measure.
- This was to enable the availability of officers and staff for the benefit of trade and industry, an order issued by CBEC special secretary and Member S Ramesh said.
- “Henceforth, all field offices from the Chief Commissioner’s office to the Range should serve as GST Seva- Kendras for effective trade facilitation,” it said.
- Apart from giving guidance to GST assessees, GST Seva Kendras should render assistance to taxpayers in migration, registration as well as filing of returns. A guidance manual for such GST Seva Kendras too has been circulated to all offices in a bid to standardise quality taxpayer services. The order instructed such manuals to be prepared for each zone operating at different levels.
KK Venugopal appointed as new Attorney General of India
- Senior advocate and constitutional expert K K Venugopal has been appointed as the new Attorney General of India. He succeeds Mukul Rohatgi as the country's top law officer.
- His name has been cleared by the office of the President of India. The 86 year old's name will soon be notified by the government.
- Thanks to his constitutional expertise and vast legal experience, Venugopal had emerged as the frontrunner for the post.
Dravid to continue as India A and Under-19 coach
- Rahul Dravid will continue in his role as the coach of India A and Under-19 teams for the next two years. Conforming to the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, Dravid's new contract will run for 12 months each year as opposed to the 10-month contract he had previously.
- Dravid, as a result, won't continue in his role as Delhi Daredevils' mentor, in accordance with the conflict-of-interest rules.
- The franchise confirmed the development in a statement. "It was an honour and privilege to have Rahul Dravid as mentor of the Delhi Daredevils over the last two years. We truly enjoyed our association and nurtured some great young talent together.
- We are sad that he will not continue with us as mentor as he chooses to serve India A as a coach. Being a true servant of cricket, he believes he still has a lot to give back to the game and help nurture young India talent. We wish him all the best."
- Rahul Dravid gets 100 per cent salary hike, set for Rs 5 crore per annum
- Despite having a two-year contract, Rahul Dravid had already expressed his eagerness to continue as coach but had sought more time from the Indian board. Accepting BCCI's offer means Dravid can't be part of media houses or do any commentary stint either.
Indian-origin boy beats IQ score of Einstein, Hawking with zero preparation
- 11-year-old Arnav Sharma has beaten Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking's IQ score making him one of the brainiest children in the country.
- The India-origin teenager from UK has successfully secured the top possible score of 162 on a Mensa IQ test, two points higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
- Arnav, hailing from Reading town in southern England, passed the Mensa IQ test without any preparation and had never seen the pattern of the paper before appearing for it.
- Termed as one of the brainiest child in the country, Arnav's score puts him in top 1 per cent of the nation.
Mizoram celebrates 31st anniversary of Mizo peace accord
- The 31st anniversary of the signing of the historic Mizo peace accord between the Union government and the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) was celebrated today in Mizoram.
- All government offices and educational institutions remained closed as the day was declared a public holiday.
- Though no official function was organised by the state government, the opposition MNF organised meetings in different parts of the state.
- A press statement issued by the Peace Accord MNF Returnee Association (PAMRA) said that of the 572 MNF cadre who came overground due to the accord, 150 have died till date.
Health Ministry’s mobile app eVIN wins GSMA Asia Mobile Award
- Indigenously developed mobile application for digitising vaccine logistics, eVIN, has won the prestigious GSMA Asia Mobile Award 2017 (AMO) for outstanding contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals in Asia.
- The Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) is an online real-time vaccine logistics management system developed and implemented by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- The ceremony, held during the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Shanghai yesterday, recognised the contributions of several transformative mobile innovations making a mark in the Asian region.
- eVIN is presently being implemented across 12 states in the country and aims to support the government’s Universal Immunization Programme by providing real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in these states.
- The mobile and web-based application is empowering last- mile healthcare workers, thereby strengthening immunisation system in India.
Queen honours Indian anti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra
- Ankit Kawatra (25) bags Young Leaders Award for 2017 for exceptional work towards solving hunger and malnutrition.
- Anti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra was awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for 2017 at a ceremony in the Buckingham Palace here.
- The award recognising the 25-year-old’s exceptional work towards solving hunger and malnutrition in India, was presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II late on Thursday night.
ADB pledges USD 10 bn for development projects in India
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today committed USD 10 billion support for infrastructure building and immediate development needs of less-developed states in the country.
- Besides, the Manila-based multi-lateral funding agency decided to increase the annual funding by USD 1 billion to USD 4 billion.
- ADB expects India to grow by 7.4 per cent in the current financial year and 7.6 per cent in 2018-19.
- Its President Takehiko Nakao said the ADB stands ready to meet immediate development needs of up to USD 5 billion over the five-year period for less developed states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, addressing critical infrastructure and capacity deficits.
- He also confirmed that with ADB assistance, strategic planning for economic corridors is rapidly progressing.
- The funding agency is prepared to invest up to USD 5 billion during 2018-2022 for infrastructure building to develop the East Coast Economic Corridor. Nakao praised progress on attracting investments in manufacturing industries in the Corridor.
China to build the world's first ever 'Forest City' with homes and businesses blanketed in almost ONE MILLION plants and 40,000 trees
- China seems to have found an innovative solution to tackle its notorious air pollution issues - an entire city covered with plants and trees. Nearly one million of them, in fact.
- The new 'Forest City', currently being built in southern China's Guangxi Province, would be home to 30,000 people once it's completed in 2020.
- In the highly ecological community, homes, offices, hotels, hospitals and schools would be entirely covered by a wide range of shrubs and floral plants, along with 40,000 trees.
SIERRA ODC building in Coimbatore gets world’s second highest green rating
- SIERRA ODC building looks like any other IT office building from the outside. No posh or massive structure, but if you enter the office complex of this Coimbatore-based IT solutions company, you will realise what the so-called “Green Building” means and is much talked about.
- The building incidentally has been recognised as the world’s second highest ranking Green Building, with a score of 103 out of 110 under LEED certification.
- “The three-storeyed building has been designed and constructed with an emphasis on increasing the efficiency of resource use — be it energy, water or materials, while reducing its impact on human health and the environment through its entire lifecycle,” said Giridhar, Managing Director, SIERRA ODC.
- Highlighting the achievements of the green building facility, he said they have managed water use efficiency of 89 per cent by using water saving fixtures and curbing wastage. Water is recycled cent per cent, he added.
- “This is a carbon-neutral building. We’ve registered a cost saving of 64 per cent on energy. We have for the first time in South India, implemented a technology — Amorphous Silicon Thin Building Vortec — wherein photovoltaic modules produce power at low cost per watt.
Dr Jitendra Singh launches new training programme ‘COMMIT’
- The Minister of State for Prime Minister's Office Dr. Jitendra Singh launched a new training programme Comprehensive Online Modified Modules on Induction Training (COMMIT) for State Government officials, here today.
- The objective of this training programme is to improve the public service delivery mechanism and provide citizen centric administration through capacity building of officials who interact with the citizens on day-to-day basis.
- Dr. Jitendra Singh said that the new training programme will supplement the earlier training programme and the advantage of COMMIT is that it is cost effective and has the potential to cover about 3.3 lakh officials annually.
PM Narendra Modi inaugurates TransStadia Arena in Gujarat's Ahmedabad, project hailed as Asia's biggest multi-purpose stadium
- In the presence of some of India’s finest athletes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated ‘The Arena’, one of the most advanced integrated multi-purpose stadiums.It is a public-private partnership between the government of Gujarat and TransStadia. Supporting the event with their presence were Pullela
- Gopichand, Kidambi Srikanth, Gagan Narang, Sushil Kumar, Bhaichung Bhutia, Paralympian Deepa Malik, former India kabaddi captain Anup Kumar and cricketers Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel, both having played domestic cricket for their home state of Gujarat.
Reliance Jio launches 25,000km-long submarine cable system
- Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd on Wednesday announced the launch of the Asia-Africa-Europe (AAE-1) submarine cable system.
- A submarine cable system consists of telecom and internet cables on the seabed between land-based stations. These carry telecommunication and data signals across stretches of oceans.
- “AAE-1, the longest 100 Gbps (gigabits per second) technology-based submarine system, will stretch over 25,000 km from Marseille, France, to Hong Kong, with 21 cable landings across Asia and Europe,” Reliance Jio said in a press statement.
- The statement added that the large scale project is the combined work of leading telecom service providers from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
- “The new terabit capacity and 100Gbps direct connectivity to global content hubs and interconnection points ensure that Jio will continue to offer its customers the most exceptional high speed internet and digital service experience,” said Mathew Oommen, president, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
- “We are excited to participate in the launch and deliver the cable landing in Mumbai at the time when India’s data traffic continues its accelerated data consumption and growth.”
Facebook's internet-beaming drone has completed its second test flight over Arizona
- Facebook has completed its second test flight for its giant, solar-powered, internet drone called Aquila, the company announced on Thursday .
- The flight was conducted on May 22 in Yuma, Arizona and lasted for one hour and 46 minutes. Facebook said the drone "landed perfectly on our prepared landing site."
- Aquila was "substantially damaged" in a crash during its first test flight over Arizona last year, according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board .
- Facebook plans to use the drone to beam internet access to unconnected parts of the world. With two billion users, the social network is nearing the limit of internet-connected people it can reach
NALSA Launches Web Application For Free Legal Services To Prisoners
- The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on Wednesday launched a Web Application for free Legal Services to prisoners, and the Legal Services Management System developed through the NIC. Through the Web Application, the information regarding le...
NASA Rocket Launch Creates Colorful Clouds Seen Across the East Coast
- NASA deployed a rocket early Thursday morning that created colorful clouds out of vapor in the Earth's upper atmosphere over the East Coast.
- Completed at 4:25 a.m. from the Wallops location on Chincoteague Island, Va., NASA successfully launched its Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket — after 11 recent unsuccessful attempts.
- The launch tested a new multi-canister ejection system used for deploying vapors, according to NASA. The colorful vapors could be seen from New York to North Carolina.
- The blue-green and red artificial clouds, deployed between four and six minutes after take-off, are used to track particle motions in space. The launch tested a new system that helps studies of the ionosphere and aurora.
Lipstick Under My Burkha To Open Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2017
- The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2017 which is all set to celebrate Diversity this year will have the much talked about film, Lipstick Under My Burkha as its opening film. This year, the festival, which earned the Melbourne Award in 2016, is all set to screen 60 films in 20 languages, which have been carefully curated to sync with the central theme of diversity.
- Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava the film boasts of a stellar star including powerhouses of talent – Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak alongside Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur.
- The film earned rave reviews globally but was unfortunately stuck amidst a controversy with the Indian censors leading to the ban of the film. After a much-sought-after court case, the film won and was cleared off for release winning over the system to finally bring this much-acclaimed film to the theatres in India. Alankrita Srivastava and Konkana Sen Sharma will be attending the festival.
Small saving schemes: PPF, NSC rates cut to 7.8 per cent, KVPs to earn 7.5 per cent
- Centre on Friday cut interest rates on small saving schemes, including, NSCs, Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Kisan Vikas Patra by 10 basis points. The revised PPF and NSCs are set at 7.8%, while KVPs will earn only 7.5%. The new rates for Senior Citizen’s Savings Scheme (SCSS) and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana have been revised to 8.3%. The small saving schemes interest rates, which are linked to the benchmark 10-year government bond yields, are revised every three months. The last revision in rates came in the month of March, when the rates for all schemes had been reduced by 10 basis points.
- Prior to the revision, PPF rates were set at 7.9 per cent, Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investments at 7.6 per cent, and the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme at 8.4 per cent. Last time, the first rate cut had come in the month of March – a move hailed by experts as both politically bold as well as economically correct. “Business and industry should get the benefits of lower interest rates. The only way of ensuring that would be that small saving rates also fall in line with the overall trajectory of softening interest rates,” says Ashish Kapur, CEO, Invest Shoppe India Ltd.
German parliament just approved same-sex marriage
- Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, just approved same-sex marriage, finally putting a country leading the European pushback against President Trump in line with its progressive neighbors.
- The celebration of the results — both in parliament and in the street — had an air of shock as well as joy. That’s because the vote wasn’t even on the docket until earlier this week when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to the vote, saying she would allow her party members — the Christian Democrats (CDU) — to vote their conscience. Until now the CDU party position has been firmly opposed to marriage equality.
- Merkel made the sudden shift onstage at a live event for the magazine Brigitte on Monday evening. There she said she’d had a “life-changing” experience meeting a lesbian couple with foster children who were providing a warm and loving home for those children. Still, Merkel herself ultimately voted no.
US slaps sanctions on Chinese bank accused of laundering N Korean cash
- The United States has slapped unprecedented sanctions on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean cash. The move comes after President Donald Trump said, Beijing’s efforts to put the brakes on Pyongyang’s nuclear drive had failed.
- Treasury Department said, the Bank of Dandong would be severed from the US financial system for acting as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move was not targeted at China’s government, but it is likely to infuriate Beijing, which says it has been unstinting in its efforts to ease tensions with North Korea.
- The bank will now be prevented from having accounts or doing business with US financial institutions.