By: D.K Choudhary
Final Draft of Central GST & Integrated GST Approved By GST Council
i. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unanimously cleared the crucial Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) draft bills on March 4, 2017 during its 11th meeting at Vigyan Bhavan.
ii. The state had recommended as many as 26 changes regarding CGST and IGST, all of which were accepted by the Centre.
iii. Under the IGST bill which is related to taxation of inter-state transfer of goods, the legislation has been made for cross empowerment of state and central officers.
iv. Both Centre and states have agreed to provide a composition scheme for small businesses. Now the small businesses with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 lakh will pay 5 percent tax (to be shared equally between the Centre and states).
Aadhaar Mandatory to Get Mid Day Meal and Booking Train Tickets Online
i. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development in its notification on February 28, 2017, made it mandatory for the students across the country to have an Aadhaar number for getting the their midday meals.
ii. Besides, the Cook-cum-helpers working under the midday meal scheme will also have to furnish Aadhaar number.
iii. The stated rule will be applicable across the country except Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya and Assam.
iv. Those who have not yet enrolled under Aadhaar can do so by June 30, 2017.
v .The move is aimed to ensure greater transparency and simplification in the government delivery process and enable beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly and in a seamless manner.
i. As per the new business plan 2017-18, unveiled by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on March 2, 2017, railway will soon make Aadhaar number compulsory for booking railway tickets online.
ii .Besides, it will also move towards cashless ticketing system by installing 6,000 point-of-sale machines and 1,000 automatic ticket vending machines across the country.
iii. The decision aims to end fraudulent bookings and prevent selling tickets registered with fake identities.
iv. In addition, an integrated ticketing app will also be launched by May 2017 to promote cashless transaction. Aadhaar number will be required for one-time registration at the IRCTC ticketing site.
v. Aadhaar number has also been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concessions in train tickets from April 1, 2017. A three-month trial run for this is going on.
Assam Cabinet Declares Sanskrit as Compulsory Subject upto Class 8
i .In a cabinet meeting on February 28, 2017, the Assam government led by the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal decided to make Sanskrit a compulsory language for students up to class 8 in the state.
ii. Besides, the government also decided to promote computer education in the state. The government would also appoint teachers for the two subject.
iii. The government will also connect each panchayat of the state with Internet facility by the end of 2017-18.
iv. The decision to make Sanskrit mandatory was highly appreciated by the Assam Sanskrit Sahitya Sabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as it would prevent western impact on state’s culture.
v. However, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) criticized the decision to make Sanskrit compulsory instead of promoting Assamese language in the schools.
Punjab, J&K seal fresh deal on Shahpur Kandi project
i. A renewed agreement between Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir has
been sealed for the completion of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project, work on which was halted two years ago following a dispute.
ii. This move comes days before its annual Indus Water Commission meeting with Pakistan in Lahore later this month. The dam will help India utilize its share of waters under Indus Water Treaty.
iii. The 55.5-metre high Shahpur Kandi dam in Punjab, will help in providing irrigation facility to 5000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32173 hectares in J&K, besides generation of 206 MW power
iv. The pact will pave the way for completion of the dam also would stop the Ravi waters from flowing into Pakistan.
West Bengal Clinical Establishment Bill 2017 Unanimously Passed in State Assembly
i. The West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017 was passed by the state legislative assembly on March 3, 2017 with full support.
ii. The Bill aims to regulate the private hospitals and bring transparency, end harassment of patients and take necessary steps to stop medical negligence in health institutes.
iii. The Bill replaces the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Regulation) Bill, 2010.
iv. The state will set up a 13 member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission which will monitor private healthcare facilities, decide on charges for hospitals and deal with complaints from patients.
v. The regulatory commission will conduct surprise and routine checks on internal functioning of hospitals, and in case of non-compliance would be liable to be imposed penalty or even forced to wind down the operations.
Key Highlights of the Bill
i. Hospitals cannot charge more than as stated in the Bill.
ii. Hospitals cannot delay the release of a deceased patient even if the family cannot pay up immediately.
iii. In case of death due to negligent treatment, hospital would be liable to pay Rs. 10 lakh as compensation.
iv. Victims of accidents will have to be provided care even if he or she cannot immediately pay for it.
v. Hospitals that received land from the state government will have to provide free treatment to one in five outdoor patients, and one in 10 patients admitted to the hospital.
vi .Every clinical establishment shall maintain a public grievance cell for lodging of complaints on treatment, improper billing, deficit service, behaviour of attending staff.
vii. Offer free Cardiac surgery to children under Sishu Sathi Scheme
West Bengal Gives Official Status to Tribal Language Kurukh
i. The West Bengal government has given an official status to Kurukh language in the state which has been listed as an endangered language by the UNESCO.
ii. The language was given the official status on February 21 on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day.
iii. Kurukh is a tribal language that belongs to the Dravidian family. It is spoken by the Oraon tribal community living in Birbhum-Bankura-Purulia-Midnapore belt and the tea garden regions in north Bengal.
iv. Kurukh is mostly spoken by around 16-lakh Oraon and Kisan tribal peoples and a sizeable number of them live in West Bengal.
v. Besides, the state has also given official recognition to Rajbongshi / Kamtapuri language. Since the language do not have any written script, the state CM Mamata Banerjee has formed a committee headed by respected Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri which will finalise the script and syllabus for Rajbongshi language.
vi. The recognition of Kurukh and Rajbongshi languages by the state government would facilitate imparting of education in state-government run schools and they can be used in official works in those areas in the state where the Oraon and Rajbongshi people live.
Official Languages in West Bengal
♦ English and Bengali are the two official languages of the state. Besides, the state has also recognized six other languages including Urdu, Gurmukhi, Nepali, Ol-Chiki, Oriya and Hindi.