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January 10, 2020
11 Jan Current Affairs
January 11, 2020
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10 Jan Current Affairs

2nd National GST Conference

In News:

The 2nd National GST Conference of the Commissioners of State Tax and Chief Commissioners of Central Tax was held recently.

Details:

The conference was focused on streamlining Goods and Services Tax (GST) system and plugging revenue leakages.

The conference was aimed to build synergy and to share their knowledge and best practices with the intent to bring about uniformity in tax administrations.

Key Points:

The government has decided to constitute a panel of centre and state officials for designing a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to check fraudulent GST refund claims and evasion of GST.

A memorandum of understanding would be signed among the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the GST Network to exchange data through the application program interface.

The data would be shared on a quarterly basis, instead of being shared on a yearly basis.

It was also decided to make the GST system aligned with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for the purpose of getting bank account details and transactions and also PAN-based banking transaction.

Statement on Climate of India during 2019: IMD

In News:

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has released the ‘Statement on Climate of India during 2019’.

Key Findings:

Deaths due to weather extremes: 2019 was a year of extremes – heat, cold, rain, and cyclones for India, killing a total of 1,562 people. Last year, the total number of deaths caused due to similar weather vagaries was 1,428.

The state-wise death toll caused due to various extreme weather events: Maharashtra (231), Jharkhand (138), Uttar Pradesh (135), Rajasthan ( 94), Kerala ( 86), Odisha (64), Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh ( 51), Karnataka (43), Himachal Pradesh (27) and Madhya Pradesh (24).

1) Rainfall: The rainfall amounts during both the southwest monsoon (June to September) and northeast monsoon (October to December) remained 109% of the Long Period Average (LPA). That is, the country recorded excess rainfall during the entire year, making it an extremely wet year in recent times, when both monsoons reported above normal rain for the seasons.

Long Period Average is a 50 year average of India’s monsoon rains. The current LPA is 89 cm, based on the average rainfall over the years 1951 and 2000.

2) Rise in Temperature

The mean temperatures remained 0.36 degrees above normal, making 2019 the seventh hottest year ever recorded.

The decade 2011 – 2019 remained the warmest on record for the country, when the annual mean temperature remained 0.36 degree above normal.

Since 1901, India has warmed by 1 degree Celsius. Whereas, the rise in minimum temperature was 0.22 degrees in the century.

3) Number of Cyclones: 2019 was exceptional for the number of cyclones that hit India’s east and west coasts.

Previously, similar cyclonic activity was reported in the Indian Ocean only during 1893, 1926, 1930, and 1976. During these years, cyclones formed both in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal put together numbered to ten in a calendar year.

Notably, an active Arabian Sea saw more cyclonic storms than the Bay of Bengal during 2019. It was only for the second time in 117 years that the Arabian Sea saw such intense and frequent cyclones.

In 2019, eight cyclonic storms formed over the north Indian Ocean, of these, five — Cyclones Vayu, Hikka, Kyarr, Maha and Pavan originated in the Arabia Sea, which is normally calmer. On the contrary, the Bay of Bengal reported less than normal number of cyclones. The three cyclones formed here were — Cyclones Pabuk, Fani, Bulbul.

The Bay of Bengal sees an average of five cyclones each year, making 2019 a year when the Arabian Sea dominated.

Coldest Winter:

The winter of 2018-2019 was one of the coldest in the northern hemisphere.

Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh reported 51 deaths triggered by snow avalanche in 2019.

Scientific Social Responsibility Policy

In News:

107th Indian Science Congress considered the importance of communication and community outreach programmes to make people aware of scientific research.

The Department of Science and Technology also mentioned about the Centre’s policy on implementing Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR).

Scientific Social Responsibility:

1) Definition:

Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) is the confluence of scientific knowledge with visionary leadership and social conscience.

It is about building synergies among all stakeholders in scientific knowledge community and also about developing linkages between science and society.

2) Need:

The SSR policy will facilitate easy access to resources and knowledge about the investments and impacts of Science and Technology (S&T) on society.

It would inculcate moral responsibility amongst the scientific community which may trigger social entrepreneurship and start-ups impacting S&T ecosystem and society.

3) Objectives:

It aims to harness the voluntary potential in the country’s scientific community to strengthen science and society linkages.

This primarily involves bridging science-society, science-science and society-science gaps, thereby bringing trust, partnership and responsibility of science at an accelerated peace towards achieving social goals.

SSR policy:

Under the program SSR researchers who are working on a science project funded by any of the Ministries under the Central government will have to undertake activities to popularise science and make it more accessible to the public.

It will include a range of activities like delivering lectures in educational institutes, writing an article in a magazine or doing something beyond the curriculum.

The science outreach would be mandatory and researchers had to include this as part of their outcome report.

Soon the government will list activities that could be taken up under the Scientific Social Responsibility programme that was similar to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana

In News:

The National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self-Employed Persons has failed to gain traction as only about 25,000 persons have opted for the scheme as against the government’s target to enrol 50 lakh by March-end.

Key facts:

As per government data, only 84 traders and self-employed persons from Delhi have registered for the scheme so far, while 59 persons from Kerala, 54 from Himachal Pradesh, 29 from Jammu and Kashmir and two from Goa have registered.

No one has registered for the scheme in Lakshadweep and Mizoram.

Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of registrations with 6,765 persons.

What is Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana?

It is a voluntary and contribution based central sector scheme.

The government launched the scheme, entailing monthly minimum assured pension of  ₹3,000 for the entry age group of 18-40 years after attaining the age of 60 years, with effect from July 22, 2019.

Under the scheme, the government makes matching contribution in the subscribers’ account.

The scheme is based on self-declaration as no documents are required except bank account and Aadhaar Card.

Eligibility:

All small shopkeepers, self-employed persons and retail traders aged between 18-40 years and with Goods and Service Tax (GST) turnover below Rs.1.5 crore can enrol for pension scheme.

To be eligible, the applicants should not be covered under the National Pension Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and the Employees’ Provident Fund or be an Income Tax assesses.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

In News:

800 FPOs registered on Farmer Connect Portal of APEDA.

Details:

A Farmer Connect Portal has been set up by APEDA on its website for providing a platform for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to interact with exporters.

About APEDA:

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985.

The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).

APEDA, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, promotes export of agricultural and processed food products from India.

APEDA is mandated with the responsibility of export promotion and development of the following scheduled products:

  • Fruits, Vegetables and their Products.
  • Meat and Meat Products.
  • Poultry and Poultry Products.
  • Dairy Products.
  • Confectionery, Biscuits and Bakery Products.
  • Honey, Jaggery and Sugar Products.
  • Cocoa and its products, chocolates of all kinds.
  • Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
  • Cereal and Cereal Products.
  • Groundnuts, Peanuts and Walnuts.
  • Pickles, Papads and Chutneys.
  • Guar Gum.
  • Floriculture and Floriculture Products.
  • Herbal and Medicinal Plants.

Administrative set up:

  • Chairman – Appointed by the Central Government.
  • Director – Appointed by APEDA.
  • Secretary – Appointed by the Central Government.
  • Other Officers and Staff – Appointed by the Authority.

Background:

An Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO), formed by a group of farm producers, is a registered body with producers as shareholders in the organisation.

It deals with business activities related to the farm produce and it works for the benefit of the member producers.

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