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6th January Current Affairs

Post- Brexit deal

In News:

The UK and European Union have finally agreed a deal that will define their future relationship.


Ever since the UK left the the EU on 31 January, both sides have been talking about what the new rules should be.

What do we know about the deal?

The deal contains new rules for how the UK and EU will live, work and trade together.

No taxes on each other’s goods when they cross borders (known as tariffs).

No limits on the amount of things which can be traded (known as quotas).

Tariffs: Tariff-free and quota-free access to one of the world’s biggest markets is the backbone of the Brexit deal and goes beyond the EU’s deals with Canada or Japan.

Trade: There will be mutual recognition of trusted trader programmes. This means UK producers will have to comply with both UK and EU standards.

Professional qualifications: There will be no more automatic recognition for doctors, nurses, architects, dentists, pharmacists, vets, engineers. They will now have to seek recognition in the member state they wish to practise in.

Mobility – freedom of movement: UK nationals no longer have the freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU. Visas will be required for stays over 90 days.

Fisheries: The UK will leave the common fisheries policy.

Why did the deal take so long?

Because so much was at stake.

The EU is the UK’s nearest and biggest trading partner, The UK government says the deal covers trade that was worth £668bn in 2019.

While the UK was in the EU, companies could buy and sell goods across EU borders without paying tariffs.

Without the deal, businesses would have had to start paying these taxes, which would have added to their costs.

No deal would have also meant even more border checks, which could have caused delays for lorries transporting products.

What happens next?

Even though the deal has been agreed, it still needs to be made law.

For that to happen it must be looked at and approved by both the UK and European parliaments.

What are the EU and Brexit?

The EU is made up of 27 European countries.

EU citizens are free to live and work in other EU countries, and firms in those countries can buy and sell each other’s goods without checks or extra taxes at borders.

The UK was the first country to leave the EU and this was known as Brexit – British exit.

Brexit happened because a public vote – or referendum – was held in June 2016, to decide whether the UK should be in the EU- Leave won by 52% to 48% .

India challenges Vodafone arbitration ruling in Singapore

In News:

India has challenged the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s verdict in favour of British telecom giant Vodafone Group in a case involving a Rs 20,000 crore demand from the Indian income tax authorities, in Singapore.

PCA at The Hague had ruled that:

India’s retrospective demand of Rs 22,100 crore as capital gains and withholding tax imposed on Vodafone for a 2007 deal was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”.

India should not to pursue the tax demand any more against Vodafone Group.

What happened after India passed the retrospective taxation law?

The Act was passed by Parliament in 2012 and the onus to pay the taxes fell back on Vodafone.

Later, Vodafone Group invoked Clause 9 of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed between India and the Netherlands in 1995.

Article 9 of the BIT says that any dispute between “an investor of one contracting party and the other contracting party in connection with an investment in the territory of the other contracting party” shall as far as possible be settled amicably through negotiations.

What is the Bilateral Investment Treaty?

The BIT was signed for promotion and protection of investment by companies of each country in the other’s jurisdiction.

The two countries would, under the BIT, ensure that companies present in each other’s jurisdictions would be “at all times be accorded fair and equitable treatment and shall enjoy full protection and security in the territory of the other”.

IFFCO gas leak: How dangerous is ammonia?

In News:

A major ammonia gas leakage at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) unit at Prayagraj.

What is Ammonia?

A tri-hydroid of nitrogen (NH3), ammonia is a building block for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertiliser.

It interacts immediately upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, and respiratory tract to form ammonium hydroxide, which is very caustic and disrupts the cell membrane lipids, ultimately leading to cellular destruction.

What are main uses of ammonia?

Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers, and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world.

More than 80 per cent of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer, and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde.

Governor not sending Bills for Presidential assent

In News:

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has said the Amendment Bills passed in the State Assembly last month to counter the Centre’s farm laws were held up in Raj Bhavan, as the Governor was not sending them for Presidential assent.


The Union government was not willing to accept that the Bills were in “public interest”, he said.

What does the Constitution of India say on Governor’s power to reserve bills for consideration of the President?

Article 200 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.

According to Article 200, when a Bill, passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has four options:

He assents to the Bill

He withholds assent

He reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President

He returns the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.

Options before the President:

When a Bill is reserved by a Governor for the consideration of the President, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom Provided that:

Where the Bill is not a Money Bill, the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House or, as the case may be, the Houses of the Legislature of the State together with such a message as is mentioned in the first proviso to article 200.

When a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration.

It is not mentioned in the constitution whether it is obligatory on the part of the President to give his assent to such a bill or not.