In Budget 2019-20,Government had announced
the Sabka Vishwas legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme,2019.The Scheme has now
been notified and will be operationalized from 1st September 2019.
The objective of the scheme is to free the
large number of small taxpayers of their pending disputes with the tax
The two main components of the Scheme are
dispute resolution and amnesty.
The dispute resolution component is aimed
at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Tax that are
subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.
The amnesty component of the Scheme offers
an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of
any other consequences under the law.
For all the cases pending in adjudication
or appeal in any forum – this Scheme offers a relief of 70% from the duty
demand if it is Rs.50 lakhs or less and 50% if it is more than Rs. 50
The most attractive aspect of the Scheme
is that it provides substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories
of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine, penalty.There is also a
complete amnesty from prosecution
The Union Human Resource Development
Minister has launched ‘National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers
Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA)’.
NISHTHA is the world’s largest teachers’
training programme of its kind in the world.
The objective of the programme is to
motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in
Under it,teachers will develop their
skills on various aspects related to (a)Learning Outcomes (b)School Safety
and Security (c)ICT in teaching and learning including Artificial
Intelligence (d)Environmental Concerns and (e)School Based Assessment in a
joyful learning manner.
The programme will aim to build the
capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering (a)all teachers and
heads of elementary Government schools (b)faculty members of State
Councils of Educational Research and Training(SCERTs) and District Institutes
of Education and Training(DIETs) and (c)Block Resource Coordinators and
Cluster Resource Coordinators in all States and UTs.
The training will be conducted by Key
Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the
State and UTs.KRPs will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource
Persons identified from National Council of Educational Research and
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE)
has launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL.
It is the first of its kind index to
provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to
facilitate rooftop solar deployment.
The index has been designed by MNRE,
Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Associated Chambers of Commerce and
Industry of India and Ernst & Young.
The index evaluates states based on their
attractiveness for rooftop development.
The index captures five key aspects namely
(a)Robustness of policy framework (b)Implementation environment
(c)Investment climate (d)Consumer experience and (e)Business ecosystem.
The index has ranked Karnataka at first
followed by Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
(MNRE) has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of
which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022.Under which,
40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops.
The Supreme Court has referred the matter
to a larger bench to decide on whether to impose a ban on private
companies to manufacture the drug Oxytocin and restrict its manufacture to
a single public sector undertaking.
This decision comes after a petition was
filed against government ban on private drug manufacturers from producing
Oxytocin also known as the ‘love hormone’ is a hormone secreted by the
pituitary glands during sex, childbirth, lactation or social
However,it can also be chemically
manufactured and sold by pharma companies for use during childbirth.It is
administered either as an injection or a nasal solution.
Oxytocin helps contract the uterus and
induce delivery, control bleeding, and promote the release of breast
milk.Its use is especially crucial to prevent new mothers from excessively
bleeding after giving birth which is a common cause of maternal
However,the drug has been misused in the
dairy industry where livestock is injected with Oxytocin to make them
release milk at a time convenient to farmers.
A recent report titled ‘Skin and Bones
Unresolved:An Analysis of Tiger Seizures from 2000-2018’ has quantified
the illegal global trade in tigers and tiger parts between 2000 and 2018.
The report has been compiled by TRAFFIC in
partnership with the World Wildlife Fund(WWF) and the International Union
for Conservation of Nature(IUCN).
The report says that tigers are listed in
Appendix I of CITES,which bans all commercial international trade for
However,data have revealed an increase in
tiger captive breeding to fuel demand for various tiger products.
The report provides that overall 2,359
tigers were seized from 2000 to 2018 across 32 countries and territories
globally.Apart from live tigers and whole carcasses,tiger parts were
seized in various forms such as skin,bones or claws.
The top three countries with the highest
number of seizure incidents were India followed by China and
Indonesia.India is the country with the highest number of seizure
incidents at 463 or 40% of all seizures.
TRAFFIC was founded in 1976 as a strategic alliance of the World Wide
Fund for Nature(WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN).It works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is
not a threat to the conservation of nature.
Russia has sent its first life sized
Humanoid robot known as Fedor into the International Space Station(ISS).
Fedor stands for Final Experimental
Demonstration Object Research (Skybot F-850).It is the first humanoid
robot to be sent to space by Russia.
Fedor is the size of an adult and can
emulate movements of the human body.The main purpose of robot is to be
used in operations that are especially dangerous for humans on board
spacecraft and in outer space.
However,it is not the first robot to visit
the ISS.The US had sent a robot into space in 2011 with the aim of working
in high-risk environments.It was flown back to Earth after suffering
technical problems.Further,Japan had also sent a robot to the ISS in 2013.
The International Space Station (ISS) is a
space station or a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.The
ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies
namely NASA(USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA(Japan), ESA (European Union)
Indian and U.S. officials will hold a 2+2
intersessional and the Maritime Security Dialogue in California,USA.
2+2 is a format of dialogue where the
defense and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts
from another country.
The 2+2 Dialogue between India and US aims
to enhance strategic coordination between both countries and maintaining
peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The 4th US-India Maritime Security
Dialogue will also be held where two sides will exchange views on maritime
developments in the Indo-Pacific region and consider steps to further
strengthen bilateral maritime security cooperation.
These interactions will lay the groundwork
for the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister and Defense Minister to
The World Bank has released a report on
the relation between water pollution and economic growth.
The report relied on the biggest-ever
database assembled on global water quality using monitoring stations,
satellite data and machine learning models.
According to the report,poor water quality
is affecting economic growth and worsening health conditions.It says that
a lack of clean water limits economic growth by one-third.
The report says that Biological Oxygen
Demand(BOD) which is a measure of organic pollution in water and a
proxy measure of overall water quality has passed a certain threshold.
The report also says that nitrogen is a
key contributor to poor water quality.Nitrogen is generally applied as
fertilizer in agriculture.It eventually enters into the rivers where it
transforms into nitrates.
However,when children come into the
contact of nitrate,it affects their growth and brain development impacting
their health and adult earning potential.
The report also says that salinity in
water has reduced the agricultural yields.This has led to enough food
being lost each year to feed 170 million people every day.
The report has suggested various measures
to reduce water pollution such as (a)Information campaigns to raise
awareness (b)Prevention efforts to stem some of the worst problems
(c)Legislation and enforcement and (d)Investments to treat pollution once
it has occurred.
India and Mauritius are close to
finalising the proposed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
The agreement had got delayed due to
apprehensions amongst domestic players in both countries about providing
unlimited market access for some items.
The two countries have now decided to go
for tariff rate quotas(TRQs) for items where limited preferential access
is to be given to protect local interests.
TRQs are import quotas that allows a
limited quantity of a specific item into a country.By putting in place
TRQs on sensitive items,the FTA partners can make sure that even if import
duties are brought down to zero,imports won’t exceed an agreed quantity.
Further,experts have said that once
India-Mauritius FTA is in place,it will provide an opportunity to Indian
manufacturers to get into the African market through the Mauritius route.
The decision to go for an FTA with
Mauritius is also strategic as China has already concluded its
negotiations for a free trade pact with the Mauritius and India does not
want to be left out.
India’s exports to Mauritius in 2018-19
was worth $1.16 billion while its imports from the country was about
FTAs are arrangements between two or more
countries or trading blocs that primarily agree to reduce or eliminate
customs tariff and non tariff barriers on substantial trade between them.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE)
has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as renewable energy.
This means that energy produced using
various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave and ocean thermal energy
conversion will now be considered as Renewable Energy.
This decision will help the sector to grow
as it will enable states to buy electricity generated from ocean energy
route to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations(RPOs).
RPO is a mechanism by which the State
Electricity Regulatory Commissions are obliged to purchase a certain
percentage of power from renewable energy sources.
The deployment of Ocean energy is
currently limited but the sector has the potential to grow which may
(a)fuel economic growth (b)reduce carbon footprint and (c)create jobs not
only along the coasts but also inland along its supply chains.
According to MNRE,Gulf of Cambay and the
Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast show potential for tidal energy
production.However,the capital cost for tidal energy is very high due to
high civil construction and high power purchase tariffs.
The Common Service Centre Special Purpose
Vehicle (CSC SPV) has signed a pact with the Panchayati Raj Ministry to
turn gram panchayats into ‘digital panchayats’
This move is aimed at providing speedy
delivery of government services to people in rural areas and promoting
rural BPO across all 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country.
According to the pact,Gram Panchayat
Bhawans will host common service centres(CSCs) to provide easy access to
government services and social schemes in rural areas.
Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is
an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY).It was
launched in 2006.CSCs act as access points for delivery of various
electronic services to villages in India.
CSC e-Governance Services India Limited is
a Special Purpose Vehicle (CSC SPV) incorporated under the Companies
Act,1956 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
to monitor the implementation of the Common Services Centres Scheme.
Researchers from the IIT Hyderabad have
found a method that can convert fly ash into a waterproofing material.
They have converted fly ash by treating it
with stearic acid which is commonly used in soaps and shampoos.
Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid
with an 18-carbon chain and has the IUPAC name octadecanoic acid.
Fly ash is the end product of combustion during
the process of power generation in the coal-based thermal power plants.
Fly ash contains heavy metals such as
large amount of PM 2.5 and black carbon.
Fly ash is a major source of PM 2.5
(respirable pollution particles) in summer.It becomes airborne and gets
transported to a radius of 10 to 20 kms.It can settle on water and other
surfaces.Hence,proper disposal of fly ash is required at many places.
Fly Ash can be used as a resource material
for many applications of construction industries such as in manufacturing
of Cement, bricks, road embankment among others.At present,63% of the fly
ash is being utilised in India but the target is for 100% utilisation of
the fly ash.
Henley Passport Index 2019 has been
released.The Index is based on data provided by the International Air
Transport Authority (IATA).
The index has ranked India at 86 down five
places from 81 in 2018. India’s mobility score is 58 which means that
Indian passport holders can access 58 countries around the world without a
As per the Index,Japan and Singapore have
the world’s most powerful passports as their passports allow visa-free or
visa-on-arrival travel to 189 places.
Further,the index provides that
Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and
The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a
global ranking of countries according to travel freedom for their
citizens.It was started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions
Index(HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.
The index ranks passports based on the
number of countries a holder can go to without a visa or the number of
countries a holder can go to where they can obtain a visa,visitor’s
permit, or electronic travel authority upon arrival.
The Asia Pacific Group(APG) may put
Pakistan on an enhanced blacklist as the country has failed to meet global
standards on money laundering and terror financing.
In June 2018,Financial Action Task
Force(FATF) had already greylisted Pakistan for failing to curb
However,the two processes are separate as
APG blacklisting status would impair Pakistan’s chances at removing itself
from the FATF greylist.
According to the APG’s report,Pakistan has
failed in enforcing safeguards against terror-financing and money-laundering
by UN-sanctioned entities and other non-government outfits.
The APG is the FATF-style regional body
for the Asia-Pacific region.APG was founded in Bangkok,Thailand in 1997 as
an autonomous regional anti-money laundering body by unanimous agreement
among 13 original founding members.
The Asia Pacific Group currently consists
of 41 members including India.It is focused on ensuring that its members
effectively implement the international standards against money
laundering,terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to
weapons of mass destruction.