Polity & Governance
- Urban Development Ministry begins approval of long term investment plans
- Justice JS Khehar Appointed as New Executive Chairman of NALSA
Bilateral & International Relations
- Revised DTAA Agreement signed between India and Cyprus
- India and UK Sign three Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements
Science & Technology
- Navy inducts four indigenously developed sonars systems
Key Facts for Prelims
- Quami Ekta Week
- World’s first salt-tolerant plant garden
Polity & Governance
Urban Development Ministry begins approval of long term investment plans
In a paradigm shift, the Ministry of Urban Development has begun approving investments in water supply, sewerage networks etc., for the next three financial years under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
- The move seeks to ensure timely implementation of basic urban infrastructure projects and achieve mission targets by 2019-20.
- In this regard, an Inter-Ministerial Apex Committee of AMRUT recently approved investments of Rs.5,815 cr during 2017-20 in the States of Gujrat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar and Tripura.
- With this, total investment approved in water supply, sewerage and other components under AMRUT has gone up to Rs.51,505 cr.
About AMRUT scheme:
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015 with the focus of the urban renewal projects is to establish infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewerage networks and water supply for urban transformation.
- Rajasthan was the first state in the country to submit State Annual Action Plan under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
- AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
- The scheme is dependent with public private partnership model (PPP) model.
- AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, sewerage, storm-water drains, transportation and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
- AMRUT will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above. It would cover some cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few state capitals and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.
- Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
- Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakhs.
- Under this mission, states get the flexibility of designing schemes based on the needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring.
- States will only submit state annual action Plans to the centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released. But, in a significant departure from JNNURM, the central government will not appraise individual projects.
Justice JS Khehar Appointed as New Executive Chairman of NALSA
The Union government has appointed Jagdish Singh Khehar, a judge of the Supreme Court, as the new Executive Chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
- National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society. It has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
- Its aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
Functions of NALSA:
- NALSA identifies specific categories of marginalised and excluded groups and formulates various schemes for implementation of legal service programmes.
- It provides services of free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for the poor and marginalised people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer in any court or tribunal.
- It also organises Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
- It works in close coordination with various State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities and other agencies.
Bilateral & International Relations
Revised DTAA Agreement signed between India and Cyprus
India and Cyprus have inked a revised Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal evasion (DTAA) with respect to taxes on income, along with its Protocol.
- It will replace the existing DTAA that was signed by two countries in June 1994.
- The provisions of new DTAA will enter into force after completion of necessary internal procedures in both countries.
- Provides source based taxation of capital gains arising from alienation of shares, instead of residence based taxation provided under the existing DTAA.
- Provides for Assistance between the two countries for collection of taxes.
- Updates the provisions related to Exchange of Information to accepted international standards.
- Enables exchange of banking information and allow the use of such information for purposes other than taxation with the prior approval of the Competent Authorities.
- Expands the scope of ‘permanent establishment’ and reduces the tax rate on royalty in the country from which payments are made to 10% from the existing rate of 15%.
- Updates the text of other provisions in accordance with the international standards and consistent policy of India in respect of tax treaties.
India and UK Sign three Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has signed three Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with UK.
The total number of APAs signed so far:
- With this, the total number of APAs signed (both- bilateral and unilateral) so far is reached to 111.
- The newly signed Agreements cover international transactions in the nature of payment of intra-group service charges and pertain to the telecom industry. They also have a roll-back provision.
- With this, India and UK have concluded 5 bilateral APAs and some more would be concluded in the near future. The total number of bilateral APAs concluded so far by the CBDT is 7.
- These Agreements are a result of the understanding reached with the Competent Authority of United Kingdom (UK) some time ago.
- The Competent Authorities of India and UK had earlier exchanged mutual agreements amongst them under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) Article of the India-UK Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC).
About the APA Scheme:
The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014.
- The Scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arm’s length price of international transactions in advance for a maximum period of five future years.
- Further, the taxpayer has the option to roll-back the APA for four preceding years.
- Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) have been filed in just four years.
Science & Technology
Navy inducts four indigenously developed sonars systems
The Indian Navy has formally inducted four types of indigenously developed sonars that will boost its underwater surveillance capability.
- The systems have been designed and developed by NPOL Naval Physical & Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a Kochi based laboratory of DRDO.
Newly inducted systems:
- It is an advanced hull mounted active-cum-passive integrated sonar system.
- It has been designed and developed for the smaller platforms such as shallow water crafts and coastal surveillance/patrol vessels.
- It is capable of detecting, classifying, localizing and tracking sub-surface and surface targets in both its active and passive modes of operation.
- Indian Navy has proposed to induct this SONAR on three of the Abhay class ships.
- Humsa UG:
- It has been designed for upgrading the existing Humsa sonar system for intensifying the command over the high seas.
- It is proposed to be installed on seven ships of three different classes of ships.
- It stands for Advanced Indigenous Distress sonar system for submarines.
- It is distress sonar is an Emergency Sound Signaling Device.
- It is used to indicate that a submarine is in distress and enable quick rescue and salvage.
- It is also provided with a transponder capability.
- It stands for Near-field Acoustic Characterisation System.
- It determines the in-situ performance of SONAR systems used to find the frequency-dependent 3-D transmission and reception characteristics of SONAR.
- It is also used to measure magnitude and phase characteristics of SONAR transmission and reception electronics and the transducers.
- The NACS has been integrated with HUMSA-NG SONAR array and proved onboard Naval platforms.
- It will be fitted on all frontline ships.
Significance of these newly inducted systems:
- With the induction of these four systems, the underwater surveillance capability of the Indian Navy will get a boost, besides providing a fillip to the quest for self-reliance in this critical area of technology.
Key Facts for Prelims
Quami Ekta Week
- With a view to foster and reinforce the spirit of Communal Harmony, the Qaumi Ekta Week (National Integration Week) will be observed all over the country for one week.
- It highlights the inherent strength and resilience of the India and to withstand actual and potential threats to the eclectic and secular fabric of our country.
- It also seeks to Provide an opportunity to reaffirm age old traditions and faith in the values of tolerance, co-existence and brotherhood in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
World’s first salt-tolerant plant garden
- The world’s first Genetic Garden of Halophytes (naturally occurring salt-tolerant plants) was inaugurated at the coastal town of Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu.
- The garden has been set up by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) founded by eminent agriculture scientist Prof M S Swaminathan, father of Indian Green Revolution.
- It will have over 1,600 species belonging to 550 genera and 117 families of Halophytes plants.
- Initially it will comprise halophytes occurring along the coasts of India including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.