Polity & Governance
- Private member’s bill proposes MPs also declare assets after term ends
Government Schemes & Policies
- Review of FSI/FAR norms in mega cities
- Narendra Modi dedicates Sardar Sarovar Dam to nation
- Ministry of DoNER invites young start-ups to avail Northeast Venture Fund
- GSTN reopens window for composition scheme
Bilateral & International Relations
- INDO-USA Joint Exercise Yudh Abhyas – 2017
Defence & Security Issues
- Indigenous artillery gun – ‘ATAGS’ sets new record in range
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Polity & Governance
Private member’s bill proposes MPs also declare assets after term ends
The Representation of The People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017, will be presented in the Winter Session of Parliament this year.
- The bill seeks parliamentarians to declare their assets at the end of their tenure.
- This bill aims to ensure accountability and transparency.
What the new bill proposes?
- The bill proposes that Members of Parliament declare their assets within 90 days after their tenure ends. This provision is to be inserted as sub section 75B(1) in the ‘Representation of People Act, 1951’.
- The proposed amendment in the parent act will help in maintaining transparency and accountability of people’s representatives at the apex level.
- It will also help in creating a positive atmosphere of corruption-free status of MPs.
- At present, elected candidate of the two Houses of Parliament have to declare their assets and liabilities within ninety days from the date on which they take their seat. However, there are no such provisions for declaration of assets and liabilities after the expiry of the term.
- The bill comes in the wake of Supreme Court observations earlier this month on the issue, after it was irked over the non-disclosure of action on jumps in politicians’ assets.
- The Supreme Court took strong exception to the Centre’s attitude of not disclosing information on action taken by it against politicians, some of whose assets had seen a massive jump of up to 500% between two elections, and had directed the government to place the necessary information in this regard before the court.
What is Private member’s bill?
- Members of Parliament other than ministers are called private members and bills presented by them are known as Private member’s bills.
Government Schemes & Policies
Review of FSI/FAR norms in mega cities
The government has ordered the review of Floor Space Index (FSI) and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) norms in mega cities of the country.
- The time bound review of these norms will be taken up in all the 53 cities with a population of one million and above each.
- A similar review for State Capitals with less than million population will also be taken up each in due course.
- The review to be taken up in consultation with States and cities is to cover an assessment of the existing norms and to what extent it could be enhanced.
What is Floor Space Index (FSI)?
- FSI is the ratio of a building’s total floor area to the size of the piece of the land on which it is built.
- In Indian cities, it is generally about 1.50, which is said to be on the lower side given the needs of rapid urbanization.
Need for review:
- NITI Ayog in their report noted that a comparison of Mumbai and Shanghai illustrates the deleterious effects of restrictive FSI. In 1984, Shanghai had only 3.65 sq.mt of space per person. Through liberal use of FSI, despite increase in population since 1984, the city had increased the available space to 34 sq.mt per person. In contrast, in 2009, Mumbai on average had just 4.50 sq.mt of space per person.
- Besides, increasing the availability of land in urban areas is critical to meet the demand for affordable housing under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
- Review is necessary to give a properly planned push to the urban development in the country.
Narendra Modi dedicates Sardar Sarovar Dam to nation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated world’s second biggest dam Sardar Sarovar, 56 years after its foundation stone was laid by former PM Jawaharlal Nehru.
About Sardar Sarovar Project:
The Sardar Sarovar Project is one of the largest water resources project of India covering four major states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- The Sardar Sarovar Dam is a gravity dam on the Narmada river near Navagam, Gujarat in India.
- The project was vision of India’s first deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to arrest excess flow of water from Narmada River into Arabian Sea.
- The foundation stone of project was laid out by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on April 5, 1961.
- The project was executed by Gujarat government’s Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNL).
- It is the largest dam and part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectric multi-purpose dams on the Narmada river.
- The Sardar Sarovar Dam has two power houses – river bed power house and canal head powerhouse. The two powerhouses have the installed capacity of 1,200 MW and 250 MW respectively.
- The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity.
- Dam’s spillway discharging capacity (30.7 lakhs cusecs) would be third highest in the world.
- It is the second biggest concrete gravity dam in the world after the Grand Coulee Dam in the United States.
- It will irrigate more than 22,000 hectares of land, mostly from drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra.
- About 57% of electricity produced from dam goes to Maharashtra, while Madhya Pradesh gets 27% and Gujarat gets 16%.
- The project had faced many hurdles including inter-state disputes, land acquisition and environmental problems and rehabilitation and resettlement of those displaced by the project. World Bank also had refused to fund it on grounds of environmental damage
Ministry of DoNER invites young start-ups to avail Northeast Venture Fund
In a bid to make Northeast a favourite destination for young Startups, the government has invited young start-ups to avail the benefits of Northeast Venture Fund.
About Northeast Venture Fund:
Launched in April 2017, North East Venture Fund was the first dedicated venture capital fund for the North-Eastern region.
- North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) in association with Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M-DoNER) has launched the North-East Venture Fund.
- It is focussed to encourage entrepreneurship in the region, primarily by offering support to the first-generation entrepreneurs.
- In addition to the provisions of tax holiday and exit period available in the Government of India’s “Standup India, Startup India” programme, the Ministry of DoNER has also rolled out “Venture Fund” for anybody who wishes to Startup in the Northeast region, which would provide a huge financial relief particularly to young entrepreneurs.
- The primary objective of North East Venture Fund (NEVF) would be to invest in enterprises focused on and not limited to Food Processing, Healthcare, Tourism, Aggregation of Services and IT&ITES located in the NER and to provide resources for entrepreneurs from the region to expand throughout the country.
- The objective of the Fund is to contribute to the entrepreneurship development of the NER and achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns through long term capital appreciation by way of investments in privately negotiated equity/ equity related investments.
GSTN reopens window for composition scheme
The GST Network (GSTN) has reopened composition scheme window facility for small taxpayers with turnover of up to Rs.75 lakh to opt for composition scheme, which offers easy compliance for business as returns are to be filed only quarterly.
- The window will be open for those taxpayers who have migrated from earlier excise, service tax or VAT regime as well as for the newly registered taxpayers.
What is GSTN?
- The GSTN is a private limited company floated to aid the rollout of the new indirect tax regime.
- The company will provide information technology support to all stakeholders for smooth implementation of the new taxation regime across the country and will be the repository of all information related to taxation and entities registered under GST.
- The majority (51%) shareholding in the firm is with private entities including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and LIC among others. The central government, jointly with state governments and Union Territories, own 49% in the company.
About the Composition scheme:
The composition scheme is an alternative method of levy of tax designed for small taxpayers whose turnover is up to Rs 75 lakh — Rs 50 lakh in the case of eight north-eastern states and the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh.
- The objective behind it is to bring simplicity and reduce the compliance cost for small taxpayers.
- The scheme is optional under which manufacturers other than those of ice cream, pan masala and tobacco products have to pay a 2% tax on their annual turnover. The tax rate is 5% for restaurant services and 1% for traders.
- As per the Central GST Act, businesses are eligible to opt for the composition scheme if a person is not engaged in any inter-state outward supplies of goods and not into making any supply of goods through an electronic commerce operator who is required to collect tax at source.
- While a regular taxpayer has to pay taxes on a monthly basis, a composition supplier is required to file only one return and pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Also, a composition taxpayer is not required to keep detailed records that a normal taxpayer is supposed to maintain.
Bilateral & International Relations
INDO-USA Joint Exercise Yudh Abhyas – 2017
The 13th edition Yudh Abhyas 2017, a joint military training exercise between India and United States was recently held at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, USA.
About Yudh Abhyas 2017:
- In this edition of exercise, armies of both countries honed tactical skills in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations (CICT ops) under UN charter.
- During two-week exercise, soldiers from both countries will hone their tactical skills in counter terror and counter insurgency operations under a joint brigade headquarter.
- Both sides jointly trained, planned and executed series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations.
- Moreover, experts from both sides also held detailed discussions to share their experience and expertise on varied operational topics.
Defence & Security Issues
Indigenous artillery gun – ‘ATAGS’ sets new record in range
An indigenous artillery gun, Gun System (ATAGS), has set a new world record in range by hitting targets at a distance of 48 km.
- It is being jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the private sector.
What kind of record?
- ATAGS registered the longest ever distance of 48.074 kms, surpassing the maximum ranges of 35-40 kms fired by any artillery gun system in this category.
Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is fully indigenous towed artillery gun system project.
- The project was started by DRDO to replace older guns in service with a modern 155mm artillery gun.
- The armament system comprises of barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre.
- Capable of night operations in direct fire mode.
- It has a longer range, accuracy and precision and provides greater fire power.
- The system is configured with all electric drive to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time.
- The system has a firing range of 40 km.
- Has high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system.
- Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, a nodal laboratory of DRDO is behind the design & development of ATAGS, along with other DRDO laboratories.
- DRDO aims to develop the artillery gun system with participation of private industry to meet the requirement of the Indian Army. The idea is to establish indigenous critical defence manufacturing technologies.