By: D.K. Choudhary
Centre Sets up Inter-Departmental Task Force to Crack Down Benami Firms
i. In an effort to pull out black money from shell companies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constituted a task force comprising members of various regulatory Ministries and enforcement agencies.
ii. Shell companies are those which do not conduct any operations and indulge in large scale money laundering and tax evasion in India.
iii .The task force would work under the co-chairmanship of the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and the Corporate Affairs Secretary Tapan Rayto monitor the actions taken by various agencies.
iv. The task force would review the functioning of shell companies to prevent their misuse for money laundering and tax-evasion.
v. The agencies involved in the task force would invoke the stringent Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act against the shell companies and further freeze their accounts and strike off the names of dormant companies.
vi. Besides, disciplinary action will also be taken against professionals supporting the shell companies and entry operators who are used to launder unaccounted-for incomes into the banking system for projecting them as white money.
vii. Benami is a South Asian word that means “without name” or “no name”. In this Act, the word is used to define a transaction in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property is purchased.
viii. The act “prohibits illegal benami transactions, and provides imprisonment up to seven years and fine for violation of the Act which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.
Government to set up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO) to simply Purchase Process
i. The Union Government has planned to up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO) in a move to integrate and streamline the long and complex process of defence acquisitions.
ii .The committee would be headed by former Director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow, Dr. Pritam Singh. DPO will function under the Defence Ministry.
iii. The organization would be set up on the recommendation of Dr. Pritam who submitted a report on the modalities of setting up the DPO to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on February 9, 2017 and would be established in about 2-3 years.
iv. The Defence Procurement Process will apply to all defence capital procurements and simplify and speed up the acquisition procedure.
Minority Affairs Minister Abbas Naqvi Inaugurates Second Edition of “Hunar Haat” in New Delhi
i. The second edition of the Hunar Haat was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on February 11, 2017 at State Emporia Complex, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place in New Delhi.
ii. The theme of the 2nd Hunar Haat is Craft Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam. The festival will take place from February 11-February 26, 2017.
iii. The exhibition is being organized by the Minority Affairs Ministry through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme.
iv. The exhibition would provide national and international market access to the artisans and craftsmen of Minority communities from across the country to encourage and promote them.
v. Hunar Haat is a unique platform that brings together crafts and traditional cuisines from different parts of the country. The show is being participated by 100 artisans and 30 culinary experts from about 24 states and Union Territories.
vi .Some of the very exquisite pieces of Handicraft & Handloom work that would be displayed for the first time includes Makrana Marble products, Bandhej from Sikar, Mojri from Rajasthan, Banjara Embroidery from Telangana, Handmade Locks & Door Handles along with Phool-Patti works from Aligarh among others.
Single Entrance Test for Engineering and Architecture across India from 2018
i. The Ministry of Human Resource Development on February 10, 2017 said that from 2018 there would be a single entrance examination for admission in all engineering and architecture colleges for undergraduate courses.
ii. The aim is to make the admission process more transparent and put a stop on heavy capitation fee levied on students. At present, many states conduct their own engineering examination or admissions are done on the basis of Class 12 marks.
iii. The government has also directed All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to issue suitable regulations under the AICTE Act for this.
iv. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has also requested all state governments and deemed universities to come under joint seat allocation to make seat allocation process more justified.
v. The test shall be conducted multiple times a year and is intended to bring uniformity in academic standards and reduce the influence of donations.