By: D.K Choudhary
PM Modi Visits Maharashtra, lays foundation stone of Shivaji Memorial
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a-day-long visit to Maharashtra on December 24, 2016, where he laid the foundation stone of ‘Shiv Smarak’, the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast.The total outlay of the project is Rs. 3,600 Crore.The project is expected to be completed by 2019.
ii. The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stones for two Mumbai Metro projects.
iii. During his visit to Mumbai, PM Modi laid the foundation stone of a new campus of SEBI’s National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) at Patalganga in Mumbai
Primary Drafts of CGST and SGST law Approved by GST Council
i. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, approved the primary drafts of Central GST and State GST laws on December 23 at the 7th meeting of GST Council in New Delhi.
ii. The primary drafts of CGST and SGST laws have been approved. The legally vetted copy of the drafts will be circulated to all the states.
iii. Under GST, the states and the Centre will collect identical rates of taxes on goods and services. For instance, if 18 percent is the GST rate on a good, the states and the Centre will get 9 percent each called the CGST and SGST rates.
iv. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated that a total of 197 provisions and five schedules have been approved for the CGST and GST draft laws. CGST is to be approved by Parliament while the SGST to be approved by States legislative Assemblies.
President Pranab Mukherjee gives fifth assent to amend Enemy Property Ordinance
i. President Pranab Mukherjee on December 22 approved re-promulgation of The Enemy Property (Amendment) Fifth Ordinance for the fifth time in a year but at the same time expressed his displeasure to the centre over using this route repeatedly for promulgating law.
ii. The ordinance was re-promulgated after the government failed to get a bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament to amend the 50-year-old Enemy Property Act, which guards against succession claims or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after 1965 and 1968 wars.
iii. The “Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm. There are 16,547 enemy properties worth Rs 1 lakh crore across India. The Union Home Ministry acts as the custodian of the enemy properties.
iv .Besides this, there are 149 immovable properties of Chinese nationals, spread over Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
v. The ordinance was for the first time promulgated on January 7 and a bill to replace it was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 9 but subsequently referred to the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.
vi. It was re-promulgated for the second time on April 2 as the Budget Session was prorogued and third time on May 31, incorporating the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
vii. On August 28, the ordinance was issued for the fourth time after the government could not pass the bill in the Monsoon Session.
MEA Announces New Rules to Apply For Passport
i. A new set of rules were announced by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on December 23, 2016, to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issue of passport to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport.
ii. The total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been reduced to 9 from the present 15. Besides, some Annexes have been removed and certain Annexes have been merged.
iii. As per the new rules, applicants born after January 26, 1989 are not required to submit a proof of date of birth (DOB) which was mandatory till now.
iv. Another key step aimed at simplifying the process is that attestation by a magistrate or notary will no longer be necessary. Self-declaration on plain paper will do.
v. It is no more compulsory to provide the name of both father and mother while applying for the passport. Besides, single parents can also apply for passports of their children.
vi .Married applicants do not need to provide any marriage certificate. The applicant need not provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons.
vii. The rules also provides a provision for government servants, who are not able to get no objection certificate from their respective departments.
viii. Provision has also been provided for the holy men to apply for passport with the names of their spiritual gurus instead of parents, provided the name match with those on at least one document such as voter, PAN or Aadhar cards.
NITI Aayog Launches National ‘Performance on Health Outcomes index’
i. Performance on Health Outcomes index has been launched by the government think-tank NITI Aayog along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on December 23, 2016 to encourage states to take transformative action in the Health sector. The index will rank the states on the basis of their performance on measurable health indicators.
ii. The guidebook for the index was released by CK Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog at the first of a series of regional workshops.
iii. The features of the index, measures and methods of submitting the data will be circulated to the States through these workshops.
iv. The index has been developed over several months with inputs from domestic and international experts in coordination with States through multiple iterations and pre-testing the indicators in two States prior to its finalization.
v. The index would focus on capturing the annual incremental improvements by States rather than on historical achievements.
vi. Monitorable indicators that form a part of Sustainable Development Goal in Health have been included. The health index will assist in State level monitoring of performance, serve as an input for providing performance-based incentives and improvement in health outcomes, thereby also meeting the citizens’ expectations.
vii. The exercise would also receive technical assistance from the World Bank and other third party organizations to validate the data submitted prior to calculation of the index. Data will be entered and results published on a dynamic web portal hosted by NITI Aayog.
Defence Ministry Approves Defence Projects over Rs. 7000 Crore
i. The Defence Ministry led by Manohar Parrikar approved four defence proposals worth over Rs 7,000 crore in a meeting on December 23, 2016.
ii. The Defence Acquisition Council approved purchasing six multi-mission maritime aircraft for the Indian Coast Guard to keep an eye on the 7,500 km-long coastline worth Rs 5,500 crore.
iii. The DAC also gave its approval to purchase one more C-17 Globemaster Mk-III aircraft from the US manufacturer Boeing at an undisclosed price. This will add to the existing inventory of 10 aircraft that New Delhi purchased at a price of $4.1 billion.
iv. Another project worth Rs 1,256-crore scheme have been approved to have 1,500 nuclear, biological, chemical warfare protection shields for the army’s infantry combat vehicles.
v. Besides, 55 low level light weight radars for the army and Indian Air Force at a cost of Rs 419 crore have also been approved.
vi. Both will be manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru.
Karnataka Government has removed restriction on night shift for women
i. The state government of Karnataka has removed restrictions on allowing women to work in night shifts in all sectors in a move to provide equal opportunities for women in all sectors.
ii. Currently, women are allowed to be employed in night shifts only in IT and ITES sectors. The present labour regulations don’t allow employers to deploy women on work between 8 pm and 6 am. However, the government made an exemption to IT and ITES companies in 2003 responding to a demand from the IT sector.
iii. The Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 and the Factories Act 1948 have been amended to make provision for women to work in night shift.
iv. However, the employment of women in night shift will be subjected to several conditions such as written consent, provision of separate loos, first priority in pick-up and drop, among others to ensure their safety, security and privacy needs.
v. There are about four lakh business units in Karnataka, and the amendments, if passed through, will benefit companies in sectors such as manufacturing, biotechnology and retail.
vi. Since the Factories Act is an Act of Parliament, Karnataka will send the amendment for Presidential assent.