Polity & Governance
- Health Ministry to launch “Mission Parivar Vikas”
- Special courts in Gujarat to deal with atrocities against Dalits
- RBI shifts issue date of Sovereign Gold Bond to Sept 30
- CBDT Signs Five more Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
Bilateral & International Relations
- Brazil urges India to broaden MERCOSUR presence
Defence & Security Issues
- SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism
Key Facts for Prelims
- MICA missile
- India’s first dengue vaccine
Polity & Governance
Health Ministry to launch “Mission Parivar Vikas”
The government will soon launch Mission Parivar Vikas to improve family planning services in seven states where the combined total fertility rate (TFR), or the number of children a woman has in her lifetime) constitutes 44% of the country’s population.
Objective of the mission:
- The main objective of ‘Mission Parivas Vikas’ is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
Key features of the mission:
- The Union ministry of health and family welfare will launch the programme in 145 high-focus districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam.
- These districts were identified based on their total fertility rate and sterilization performance among other measures taken for family planning, for immediate, special and accelerated efforts.
- The target of the government is to reach the replacement level fertility goals of 2.1 by the year 2025.
- The key strategic focus of this initiative will be on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes, ensuring commodity security, building capacity (service providers), creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.
Why this is necessary?
- Recent government data shows that these 145 districts have TFR of more than or equal to 3 (56% of the 261 districts in the 7 High Focus States), and are home to 28% of India’s population, which is about 33 crore. These states are home to 22% of India’s protected couples and 40% of India’s couples with unmet contraceptive needs.
- These districts have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators, as about 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts alone. Moreover, 115 of these districts (79%) have high percentage of adolescent mothers.
Special courts in Gujarat to deal with atrocities against Dalits
In the wake of Dalit agitation in Gujarat, the state government has announced setting up of 16 special courts across the state for the speedy trial of cases under SC/ST atrocities Act.
- The state law department has issued a notification after consultation with the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court for setting up of new courts which will become functional from October 1.
- These courts will look after only cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Why state government need these special courts?
- The trial in cases registered under the Atrocity Act get delayed because there are no special courts to try such cases on fast track basis. Now, for speedy trial, such cases will be tried in special courts.
RBI shifts issue date of Sovereign Gold Bond to Sept 30
With over two lakh applications for the Sovereign Gold Bond, the Reserve Bank of India has shifted the issue date by a week to September 30 for “smooth” uploading of the subscriptions in its ‘E-Kuber’ system.
- According to Finance Ministry, the amount realised through the fifth tranche of the Sovereign Gold Bond scheme is expected to cross Rs 820 crore. This was mobilised through over 2 lakh applications representing around 2.37 tonnes of gold.
- The total subscription in first four tranches was Rs 2,239 crore corresponding to 7.85 tonnes of gold.
About Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) scheme:
Under the scheme, gold bonds are issued in denominations of 5 grams, 10 grams, 50 grams and 100 grams for a term of 5-7 years with a rate of interest to be calculated on the value of the metal at the time of investment.
- The maximum amount which can be subscribed is 500 grams per person per financial year and the interest rate on the bonds are set at 2.75 per cent per annum, payable on a half-yearly basis.
- The government’s plan behind the SGB scheme is to encourage those who use gold as a store of value to instead invest in the gold bonds as opposed to the physical yellow metal itself. The idea, among others, is to reduce India’s substantial gold imports.
- The bonds, issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the government, have a tenor of eight years with an exit option from the fifth year onwards.
- The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd. (SHCIL) and designated Post Offices.
CBDT Signs Five more Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) entered into five (5) unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) today with Indian taxpayers.
- One of these Agreements has a rollback provision in it.
- With these signings, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 103.
- The five (5) APAs signed pertain to diverse sectors i.e. Information Technology, Sourcing services and Investment advisory services.
- The 103 APAs signed so far include 4 bilateral APAs and 99 unilateral APAs.
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 setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
- Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just four years.
Significance of the APA scheme:
- The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
What is the meaning of the APA?
An Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) is a contract, usually for multiple years, between a taxpayer and at least one tax authority (CBDT) specifying the pricing method that the taxpayer will apply to its related-company transactions.
- These programmes are designed to help taxpayers voluntarily resolve actual or potential transfer pricing disputes in a proactive, cooperative manner, as an alternative to the traditional examination process.
Bilateral & International Relations
Brazil urges India to broaden MERCOSUR presence
Brazil has asked India to expand its commercial and multilateral footprints in South America. Brazil is also planning to take up this issue in the upcoming Goa BRICS summit.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Michel Temer are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting on September 17 where Brazil is likely to push for greater presence of India in MERCOSUR.
- India at present has over 450 tariff lines with MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market). But, the plan now is to raise the tariff line to 4000.
- Both sides have already begun to take several steps to firm up India’s involvement in MERCOSUR that covers apart from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela.
What is MERCOSUR?
- Mercosur is a sub-regional bloc.
- Its full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
- Its associate countries are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.
- Observer countries are New Zealand and Mexico.
- Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency. The official languages are Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani.
- It has been updated, amended, and changed many times since. It is now a full customs union and a trading bloc.
- Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations are customs unions that are components of a continuing process of South American integration connected to the Union of South American Nations.
Defence & Security Issues
SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism
The 2nd meeting of the High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism concluded in Delhi.
- The two-day meeting was concluded with the participation of delegations from all SAARC member countries.
What has been discussed?
- During the meeting, the issues of terrorism and the measures to strengthen the SAARC anti-terrorism mechanism were discussed.
- Besides terrorism, the important issues discussed during the meeting included drugs trafficking, financing of terrorism and cyber crimes.
- The member countries shared their national experiences on various related legislations to counter terrorism.
- All member countries of SAARC agreed to move forward towards operationalizing the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drugs Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) in order to strengthen the combat efforts against terrorism.
Key Facts for Prelims
- Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully fired recently acquired long range air-to-air MICA missile from Mirage-2000 Upgrade combat aircraft on a manoeuvring target.
- With this success IAF has become one of the few air forces in the world that have capability of launching such beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile.
- Mirage-2000 is a single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation. The upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter jets are fitted with the Thales RDY 2 radar, new avionics, helmet-mounted display. They have ability to fire new weapons including BVR MICA, Meteor missiles.
- The eighth edition of joint military exercise ‘Indra-2016’ between India and Russia has begun in Russian city of Vladivostok.
- The main focus of this edition of bilateral military exercise is on Counter-Terrorism Operations in semi mountainous and jungle terrain under United Nations Mandate.
- The ‘Indra’ series of annual bilateral exercises and is one of the major bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between India and Russia since 2003.
- The seventh edition of this military exercise or ‘Indra-2015’ was held in Bikaner district of Rajasthan, India.
- It is the first military exercise between Russia and Pakistan, kicked off in Pakistan.
- It is named Druzhba-2016 (Friendship-2016).
- With this, Pakistani Army and Russian Ground Forces (RGF) have come together for the first time in military exercises reflecting growing military ties between two former Cold War rivals.
India’s first dengue vaccine
India’s largest pharmaceutical company Sun Pharma has signed deal with International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for clinical development Cissampelos pariera (Cipa), India’s first vaccine (drug) for the treatment of dengue.