15 August Current Affairs
August 15, 2020
August 17, 2020
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17 August Current Affairs

PM Modi to launch “Transparent Taxation-Honouring the Honest”

In News:

Prime Minister Modi is to unveil a new platform called “Transparent Taxation-Honouring the Honest”. This was earlier announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as “Tax Charter” in Budget 2020-21.


The Government of India is to unveil fresh measures including big-ticket infrastructure projects to make local industry more competitive. This mainly focuses to reorient tax administration. The steps are a part of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

The steps are being introduced to make India self-reliant. The package has been designed based on inputs from global manufacturers. These sets will aim in securing jobs in urban centres. Also it will ease compliance and benefit tax payers greatly.

What are the new steps?

The new steps include proposed set of measures to focus on demand and supply. It also includes defence spending. The steps also focus on job creation and tax payers rights.

In the Budget 2020-21, Tax Payer Charter was introduced. The Charter will ensure trust between the taxpayer and government administration. This will reduce harassment and will also increase respect for wealth creators.

Tax Charter:

The taxpayer charter is to be incorporated in the Income Tax act to make sure taxpayers rights establish trust between tax payer and tax administrator. This is being done to avoid harassments. There are only three countries in the world that have enshrined rights of its taxpayers. They are Canada, Australia and US.

Tax Reforms:

The GoI has been introducing various Tax Reforms lately. These include corporate Tax rate reduction from 30% to 22%. The focus on tax rates were on simplification of direct tax laws.

Also, for the new manufacturing units, the rates are cut to 15%. The GoI also brought in Direct Tax “Vivad Se Vishwas Act, 2020” under which declarations to settle disputes are being filed.

NASA Planet Hunter TESS finds 66 new Exoplanets

In News:

The planet hunter of NASA called the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has found 66 new Exo planets. TESS is Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite. It scanned about 75% of the starry sky during its mission.


The planet hunter TESS monitors monitored the sky for about a month using four cameras. The mission has been extended till September 2022. The mission is to further explore along the ecliptic orbit plane of the earth around the sun.

About TESS:

TESS is a space telescope for NASA explorer programme designed to search Exoplanets. It searches for Exoplanets covering 400 times larger area as covered by Kepler Mission.

TESS was launched by Falcon Rocket in 2018. TESS has so far identified 1, 835 Exoplanets.

The main objective of TESS Mission is to survey the brightest stars near the earth. It uses an array of wide-field cameras that covers 85% of the sky. The earlier mission such as KEPLER focused on planets around distant stars. TESS focuses on planets around nearby stars.

Kepler Mission:

The Kepler Mission was launched by NASA to survey Milky Way Galaxy. It was mainly focused on discovering hundreds of Earth-like small planets. The mission focused on the following

India’s Exoplanet Search Mission:

PARAS is India’s Exoplanet search mission. PARAS is PRL Advanced Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search. It is ground-based exoplanet search device. It is located at Mt Abu. It works at a resolution of 67,000. PARAS has achieved RV accuracy of 1.3 m/sec. PARAS works on bright sun like quiet stars. It uses Thorium-Argon lamp for calibration. It is capable of detecting planets around M-type stars.

M-Type Stars:

Around 76% of stars in the solar system are M-type stars. They have low luminosities.

Lakshadweep Corals have answers about Indian Monsoon

In News:

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has recently stated that the Corals in the North Indian Ocean have vital answers about the onset and withdrawal of Indian Monsoons. The Indian Monsson has been arriving with variabilities in the recent years. This is due to several factors apart from Climate Change. The Lakshadweep and Maldives Corals have answers to these variabilities according the IITM Study.


The study states that the bands growing on the coral surface is capable of revealing about paleoclimatic conditions, ambient water temperature, rainfall and other aspects in the past. This is similar to that of the tree rings used to determine the information about the past climate.

Key Findings of the Study:

Sea Surface Temperature is the vital factor that governs Indian Monsoon. It regulates moisture production in the sea and also affects wind circulation patterns causing rainfall in the monsoon season. The salinity of the sea water increases with increase in Sea Surface Temperature. This means that increased temperature leads to higher rate of evaporation leaving behind larger concentrations of salt in the sea. This is common in summers. However, the study has found that there has been departure in this trend in the Northern Indian Ocean especially in the seas of Lakshadweep.

The Lakshadweep seas began to cool after the onset of monsoon in June. This was because of supply of low saline water flowing from Bay of Bengal into the southern regions of Arabian Sea. Because of the above reasons, the corals in the Lakshadweep Islands enjoy favourable conditions.

Bands in the Corals:

The bands in the corals suggest their lifespan. They live anywhere between 300 and 400 years. The acidification in the oceans can push corals get dissolved in sea water.

The thickness of coral bands changes with temperature, nutrient availability and water clarity.

ARUNODOI: Assam to launch mega scheme for Women Financial Empowerment

In News:

On August 17, 2020, the Assam Government is to identify beneficiaries of new scheme called “ORUNODOI”. The scheme is being launched to help in women financial empowerment.


The ORUNODOI will be the biggest scheme in Assam that will benefit more than 17 lakh families. The scheme aims to empower women while boosting economic development. The State Government of Assam has allocated Rs 280 crores for the new scheme. Under the scheme, Rs 830 per month is to be provided to poor households. This is in addition to an annual income of Rs 10,000 that will be provided. This will help to meet their nutritional, medical and academic needs also to will aid in meeting their additional spending during festivals.

The scheme will give priority to households that are run by divorced women, widows, separated women and unmarried women. The only condition is that their composite income should be less than Rs 2 lakhs per annum.

Assam Government:

The Assam Government has introduced several policies and schemes recently to improve economic development in the state. This includes Biotechnology Policy, Industrial and Investment Policy, Handloom Policy, Sugar Policy, Tourism Policy and Start Up Policy.

Biotechnology Policy:

This is to be implemented between 2018-22. Assam is one of the biodiversity hot spot and biotechnology industrial development is yet to take place in the state. Therefore, Biotechnology Policy has greater significance. The policy is to focus on tissue culture, medicinal plant processing, microbial based bio fertilizer production, vermi compost production, mushroom production, etc.

Handloom Policy:

The Handloom sector in the state provides employment to large number of people in rural areas. The third Handloom Census conducted by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) indicated that the total weaver households in the country is declining. GoI has taken several measures to boost handloom sector in Assam. The Muga silk of Assam was the 38th product to receive GI tag.

The Handloom Policy is to stay effective between 2017 and 2022.

GoI allows sales of Electric Vehicles without BATTERIES

In News:

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways announced that the Electric Vehicles shall be sold and registered without pre-fitted batteries. This will reduce cost of Electric Vehicles by 50%.


The step is being introduced by GoI as the batteries make the Electric Vehicles highly expensive than the combustion engines. If the cost of the batteries is delinked from that of the vehicles, their cost would be far less than that of the fossil-fuel powered vehicles. The batteries can then be sold by the manufacturer or energy service provider separately.


With this step, the manufacturers now rise the question that if the EVs are sold without batteries how will the subsidies under the Electric Vehicle Adoption Policies be determined. GoI offers incentives under Electric Vehicles FAME Policy as well.

The other major concern involved around the decision is that under Rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, both electrical vehicle and the battery are required to be type-approved by the test agencies.


The GoI is trying to create an ecosystem that will accelerate the uptake of Electric Mobility in the country. If the step becomes a success, the batteries can just be rented or refilled at fuel stations just like diesel and petrol. This will help ultimately remove the obstacle of under developed Charging Stations Infrastructure in the country.


It is important for India to promote the use of Electric Vehicles in the country. India has committed to cut Green House Gas Emission intensity by 33% to 35% by 2030 as compared to 2005. WHO says that India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. Therefore, it is essential for India to push for use of Electric Vehicles.

Also, India imports 80% of its transport fuel, that is oil. EVs can help reduce this dependency. Promotion of EVs will also help generate employment in the country.