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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 26, 2020

Current Affair 1:
GST Council

The 41st GST Council met under the Chairmanship of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman via video conferencing today i.e. 27th day of August 2020. In very short we will see key highlights. Our main focus is GST Council.

41ST GST COUNCIL MEETING KEY HIGHLIGHTS: Just see fast.

  1. States were given two options to make up for their revenue shortfall amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • to provide a special borrowing window to states, in consultation with the RBI,
  • to provide Rs 97,000 crore at a “reasonable” interest rate and this money can then be repaid after 5 years by extending cess collection
  • to meet the entire GST compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crore this year itself after consulting with the RBI.
  1. States will also be given a further relaxation in FRBM of 0.5% points for market borrowing.
  2. States Seek Seven Days to Consider Cess Option
  3. The Attorney General is of the view that compensation needs to be paid to states for five years. But this compensation gap has to be met from the levy of cess.
  4. This is not the appropriate time to talk of increases in tax rates.

Now very important is GST Council

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Act, 2016 came into force on 8th September 2016. As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A.

As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members:

On 12th September 2016 cabinet approved setting-up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat:

  • Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution
  • Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi
  • Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-Officio Secretary to the GST Council
  • Inclusion of the Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council

Now important points: Very important for Prelims.

  1. The Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council referred to in sub-clause (c) of clause (2) (see top) shall, as soon as may be, choose one amongst themselves to be the Vice-Chairperson of the Council for such period as they may decide.
  2. The Goods and Services Tax Council shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.
  3. One-half of the total number of Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall constitute the quorum at its meetings.
  4. The Goods and Services Tax Council shall determine the procedure in the performance of its functions.
  5. Every decision of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be taken at a meeting, by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely: —
  • the vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast, and
  • the votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.
  1. No act or proceedings of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be invalid merely by reason of—
  1. any vacancy in, or any defect in, the constitution of the Council; or
  2. any defect in the appointment of a person as a Member of the Council; or
  3. any procedural irregularity of the Council not affecting the merits of the case.
  1. The Goods and Services Tax Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate any dispute
  • between the Government of India and one or more States; or
  • between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other side; or
  • between two or more States, arising out of the recommendations of the Council or implementation thereof.

As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain States, etc.

Current Affair 2:
NDC-Transport Initiative for Asia

Source Link

Recently, the NITI Aayog launched the “India Component” of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA).

It is a regional initiative that aims to promote a comprehensive approach to decarbonize transport in India, Vietnam, and China. In each of the partner countries, the NDC-TIA supports in making their sectoral contributions to the achievement of the NDCs of the Paris Agreement. The NDC-TIA programme has a duration of 4 years.

  1. India has a massive and diverse transport sector that caters to the needs of billion people.
  2. It has the world’s second-largest road network, which contributes to maximum greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through all means of transportation.
  3. With increasing urbanization, the fleet size i.e. the number of sales of vehicles is increasing rapidly. It is projected that the total number of vehicles will be doubled by 2030.
  4. The NDC–TIA India Component will focus on establishing a multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for decarbonizing transport in India, strengthening GHG and transport modelling capacities, providing technical support on GHG emission reduction measures, financing climate actions in transport, offering policy recommendations on electric vehicle (EV) demand and supply policies, evaluating business models through cost-benefit analyses and so forth.
  5. A significant focus will be given on electric mobility, which would require coupling of transport and energy sectors and receiving cross-sectoral expertise from ministries, international development agencies, think tanks, public and private organizations.
  6. Ultimately, the programme intends to support the development of policies and regulations to promote electric vehicle charging infrastructure uptake and smooth widescale adoption of EVs in India.

Current Affair 3:
New discovery of protein in plants’ immune systems can help boost agriculture

Source Link

A new discovery related to plants’ defence mechanisms against pathogens has the potential to pave the way for healthier, more resistant and productive crops. Plants have a unique ability to safeguard themselves against pathogens and resist infection: A flood of calcium surrounds their pores — or stomata — triggering them to close. This much was known by scientists, but it was unclear exactly how calcium would enter the plant cells.

A study by an international team of scientists — including those from the University of Maryland (UMD), United States — claimed this to be the work of a protein called OSCA1.3 that formed a channel leaking calcium to the cells.

  1. The stomata are encircled by two guard cells that respond to the calcium signals telling them to either expand or contract, triggering innate immune signals and initiating the plants’ defense response.
  2. The calcium could not directly pass through guard cell membranes, so scientists knew there was a calcium channel, but did not know which protein acted to form one.
  3. The study’s lead author Cyril Zipfel, a professor of molecular and cellular plant physiology at the University of Zurich, searched for proteins that could be modified by another protein named BIK1, a necessary component of the immune calcium response in plants.
  4. The OSCA1.3 protein transformed in a very specific way when it was exposed to BIK1, suggesting it to be the calcium channel.
  5. BIK1 was activated only when plants were infected by a pathogen, further suggesting OSCA1.3 was responsible for creating the calcium channel that helps close plants’ stomata.
  6. The study benefitted from collaboration of laboratories in Finland, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the US.

Current Affair 4:
Togo first in Africa to end sleeping sickness

Source Link

 


 

Togo has become the first country in Africa to eliminate human African Trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, a disease caused by parasites transmitted through infected tsetse flies. The World Health Organization (WHO) August 27, 2020 certified so, after the country applied for it in 2018.

This disease is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly, which transfers the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, to both humans and cattle. The infection results in fever, headache and joint pains, followed by confusion, poor coordination, numbness and disturbed sleep.

There are two types of sleeping sickness. The first type occurs due to the Trypanosoma brucei gambiense parasite found in 24 countries in west and central Africa. It caused more than 88 per cent of reported cases of sleeping sickness in 2019, according to updated estimates made available by the WHO.

The second type is due to the Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense parasite found in 13 countries in eastern and southern Africa. This type accounted for the remaining 12 per cent of reported cases in 2019.

Current Affair 5:
Hurricanes Laura

Hurricane Laura has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana in US as one of the most powerful storms to hit the state.

Key Points:

  1. Hurricane Laura is a Category 4 storm.
  2. A Category 4 storm has wind speeds between 130-156 mph and can uproot trees and bring down power lines.
  3. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale: Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which rates them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on wind speed.

       

How Does a Storm Become a Hurricane?

  1. A hurricane starts out as a tropical disturbance. This is an area over warm ocean waters where rain clouds are building.
  2. A tropical disturbance sometimes grows into a tropical depression. This is an area of rotating thunderstorms with winds of 62 km/hr (38 mph) or less.
  3. A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm if its winds reach 63 km/hr (39 mph).
  4. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane if its winds reach 119 km/hr (74 mph).

What Makes Hurricanes Form?

  1. Warm ocean waters provide the energy a storm needs to become a hurricane. Usually, the surface water temperature must be 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher for a hurricane to form.
  2. Winds that don’t change much in speed or direction as they go up in the sky. Winds that change a lot with height can rip storms apart.

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