Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM)
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is close to finalising three projects worth ₹135 crore, involving Indian and European scientists, to develop new influenza vaccines using a Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM).
Meaning: Under Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM), volunteers who take part in trials will be infected, under expert supervision, with infectious viruses or bacteria.
Benefits: A CHIM approach will speed up the process whereby scientists can quantify whether potential vaccine candidates can be effective in people and identify the factors that determine why some vaccinated people fall sick and others do not.
Concerns: The risk in such trials is that intentionally infecting healthy people with an active virus and causing them to be sick is against medical ethics. It also involves putting human lives in danger.
Such studies, which are being employed in vaccine development in the United States, the United Kingdom and Kenya, are being considered in India.
Rather than influenza trials, India would likely develop CHIM protocols to study bacterial or enteric viruses (residing in the intestine) such as cholera or typhoid. If successful, these would serve to create back-ups to the existing cholera and typhoid vaccines.
Guidelines On Concurrent Audit System
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revised the guidelines on concurrent audit system following the recommendations by an expert committee under Y.H. Malegam.
Salient features of the revised guidelines:
Concurrent audit aims at shortening the interval between a transaction and its independent examination.
The scope of work for concurrent auditors is left to the discretion of the head of internal audit of banks, with the due prior approval of the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors (ACB)/Local Management Committee ((LMC) in case of foreign banks) of the bank.
Banks should ensure that the concurrent audit covers risk sensitive areas identified by them as per their specific business models.
The broad areas of coverage under concurrent audit shall be based on the identified risk of the unit and must include random transaction testing of sufficiently large sample of such transactions wherever required.
Appointment of Auditors: The option to consider whether concurrent audit should be done by bank’s own staff or external auditors (which may include retired staff of its own bank) continues to be left to the discretion of individual banks.
Generally, tenure of external concurrent auditors with a bank shall not be more than five years on continuous basis.
Further, the age limit for retired staff engaged as concurrent auditors may be capped at 70 years.
However, no concurrent auditor shall be allowed to continue with a branch/business unit for a period of more than three years.
Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria
The government has named Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria as the 26th chief of the Indian Air Force.
Government has decided to appoint Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria as the next Chief of the Air Staff after the retirement of Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on 30th September 2019.
Bhadauria, now the Vice-Chief of Air Staff, will take over on September 30 and will have a two-year tenure.
He had played a key role in the negotiations for the deal with France for 36 Rafale jets. In an acknowledgment of Mr. Bhadauria’s role in the negotiations, the first Rafale, which made its maiden flight in France, is designated RB-008 after his name.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
In an open letter issued by the UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore marking 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF outlines eight growing challenges for the world’s children.
Protracted conflicts, the worsening climate crisis, a decline in mental health, mass migration and online misinformation are some of the most concerning emerging global threats to children.
Majority of children will grow up as natives of a digital environment saturated with online misinformation. For example, so-called ‘deep fake’ technology uses artificial intelligence techniques to create convincing fakes of audio and video content, relatively easily.
According to UNICEF, here are eight reasons why It is worried for future of world’s children:
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries. The total amount disbursed to the beneficiaries under the scheme has crossed Rs. 4,000 crores.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing Centrally Sponsored Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
Implementation of the scheme started with effect from 01.2017.
PMMVY is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme under which cash benefits are provided to pregnant women in their bank account directly to meet enhanced nutritional needs and partially compensate for wage loss.
Under the ‘Scheme’, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three installments on fulfilling the respective conditionality, viz. early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.
The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
Union Human Resource Development Minister launched several initiatives of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) including Facilitation through Margadarshan and Margadarshak,
Under the initiative of Facilitation through Margadarshan and Margadarshak, the topmost institutions will mentor other institutions, so that they can improve their rankings and follow best practices of the mentor institute.
The teachers (Margdarshak) will also be guiding other institutions for their betterment.
Under this scheme, institutions having good accreditation record / highly performing institutions are supposed to mentor relatively newer 10 – 12 potential institutions.
These institutions are also provided funding upto Rs. 50 lakhs per institution over a period of three years in instalments for carrying out various activities like trainings, workshops, conferences and travel.
Under this scheme, mentor teachers or Margdarshaks who are either serving or superannuated but willing and motivated with good knowledge of accreditation and who can devote adequate time to make required visits to these Institutions are identified.
These Margdarshaks will regularly visit to the mentee institutions, stay on their campus and guide them for their improvement in quality so that institutions are able to get accreditation by NBA.
Guidelines for Payment Gateways and Payment Aggregators
The Reserve Bank has placed on its website a discussion paper on ‘Guidelines for Payment Gateways and Payment Aggregators’ for public comments.
Key Highlights Of Discussion Paper:
The RBI has proposed norms that will subject payment gateways to greater regulation, including capital requirements (Rs 100 crore).
Capital requirements will be minimum net-worth as prescribed for Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOUs) (currently Rs 100 crore) to be maintained at all times.
Entities not able to comply with the net-worth requirement within the stipulated time frame, need not apply for authorisation but should wind-up payment aggregation business within one year of issuance of guidelines.
The entity should be professionally managed where the promoters of the company should satisfy the fit and proper criteria prescribed by RBI.
It also wants to separate the payment aggregation services provided by e-commerce firms from their main business.
It wants to hold the payment gateways and aggregators accountable if merchants pass on charges to the customer.
RBI has also sought to bar the use of ATM pin for authentication.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, thanked Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for conferring upon him Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be honoured with the 2019 ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his leadership and commitment to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan.
The annual awards, in five categories, are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The five categories are:
What do award winners receive?
The Campaign, Changemaker and Progress Awards winners receive $10,000 in unallocated funds for endeavours in their fields.
The recipients of the Global Goalkeeper and Goalkeepers Voice Award will not receive a cash prize.
The Foundation will host the fourth annual Goalkeepers ‘Global Goals Awards’ on September 24.
GST Council 37th meeting
The GST Council, headed by Union Finance Minister and comprising representatives of all States and Union Territories (UTs), had its 37th meeting in Goa in the backdrop of economic growth hitting a six-year low of 5% for the first quarter of the current fiscal.
The following are the highlights of the 37th GST Council meeting held in Panaji on September 20, 2019. All these rate changes will be effective from October 1 2019.
GST Council recommends lower 12% cess on 1,500 cc diesel, 1,200 cc petrol vehicles with capacity to carry up to 13 people.
Group insurance schemes for paramilitary forces under the Home Affairs ministry to be exempted from GST.
GST rate on caffeinated beverages raised from 18% to 28% with 12% compensation cess. Aerated drink manufacturers shall not be under the composition scheme anymore.
Uniform GST rate of 12% to be levied on polypropylene bags and sacks used for packing of goods
GST exempted on specified defence goods not manufactured in India
Rate levied on cut and polished semi precious stones has been dropped from 3% to 0.25%. Jewellery exports to now attract zero GST.
GST on fishmeal used by fishermen being exempted from July 2017 to September 30 this year. There was lack of clarity on their GST coverage and no tax was collected so that has been resolved.
GST rate hiked on railway wagon, coaches from 5% to 12%.
Rate reduction on hotel accommodation services. For Transaction value per unit per day of ₹1000 or less, will attract nil GST. For ₹1001 upto ₹7500, now the tax rate will be 12%. Anything above ₹7501 will attract 18%. It was 28% till now.
Job work services related to diamonds reduced from 5% to 1.5%. For machine job works in engineering industry, GST down from 18 to 12. But bus body building works still taxed at 18%.
Cuts In Corporate Tax Rate
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced big cuts in corporate tax rate, giving a ₹1.45 lakh crore stimulus aimed at reviving private investment and lifting growth from a six-year low.
Key changes announced in Income Tax Act:
The government slashed basic corporate rate tax to 22% from 30% for domestic companies that don’t avail any exemption/incentive. The effective tax rate for these companies shall be 25.17% inclusive of surcharge and cess. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT)
To boost manufacturing and the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative, the government has slashed corporate tax rate to 15%, from 25%, for domestic companies incorporated on or after 1st October 2019 making fresh investment in manufacturing.
To provide relief to companies which continue to avail exemptions/incentives, the government has reduced the rate of Minimum Alternate Tax or MAT to 15%, from 18.5%.
To increase the flow of funds into capital markets, the government rolled back increased surcharge introduced in this year’s Budget on capital gains.
To provide relief to listed companies that had announced share buyback before 5th July 2019, the government exempted such companies from buyback tax announced in the Budget.
Total revenue foregone for the reduction in corporate tax rate and other relief are estimated to be at 1.45 lakh crore rupees.