1-3 July 2017 Current Affairs

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03 Jul, 2017

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1) Independent India’s biggest reform initiative was ushered in the midnight of 30 June 2017 as the highly ambitious Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime kicked-off in the country. Which would be the simplest words to describe GST? – A destination-based indirect tax on consumption

Explanation: In simplest words Goods and Service Tax (GST) can be defined as a destination-based indirect tax on consumption. It primarily seeks to eliminate inefficiencies in the tax system that result in ‘tax on tax’, known as cascading of taxes.

It can also be described as a value-added tax at each stage of the supply of goods and services precisely on the amount of value addition achieved. To make sure that GST is levied only on the amount of value addition at each stage of the supply chain, credit for the taxes paid at the previous stage is granted.

 Businesses and traders with annual sales above Rs. 20 lakh are liable to pay GST. The threshold for paying GST is Rs. 10 lakh in the case of northeastern and special category states. GST is applicable on inter-state trade irrespective of this threshold.

 For this momentous occasion of implementing GST in the country, a special joint-session of the Parliament was convened in the midnight of 30 June 2017 in which President Pranab Mukherjee ushered the country into the GST era.

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2) The Union Government on 30 June 2017 reduced the interest rate on small savings by how many point for the July- September 2017 quarter? – 0.1%

Explanation: The Union Government lowered interest rate on small saving schemes like Public Provident Fund (PPF), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and Sukanya Samriddhi by 0.1% for the July- September 2017 quarter.

 The rates have been lowered by 0.1% across the board compared to the April-June quarter. However, interest on savings deposits has been retained at 4% annually.

 Now investments in the PPF scheme will fetch lower annual rate of 7.8%. Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investments will yield 7.5% and mature in 115 months. The one for girl child savings, Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme, will offer 8.3% annually, from 8.4 % at present.

 The investment on 5-year Senior Citizens Savings Scheme will yield 8.3%. The interest rate on the senior citizens scheme is paid quarterly. Term deposits of 1-5 years will fetch a lower 6.8-7.6% will be paid quarterly while the 5-year recurring deposit has been pegged lower at 7.1%.

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3) Who was appointed the new Attorney General for India to succeed Mukul Rohtagi? – KK Venugopal

Explanation: Senior advocate KK Venugopal’s appointment as the new Attorney General for India was cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee. He will succeed Mukul Rohatgi, who had announced his resignation during June 2017.

 86-year old Venugopal had served as the Additional Solicitor General in the Morarji Desai government. He assisted the Supreme Court in a number of cases and was an amicus curiae in the 2G spectrum scam case.

 Among the prominent cases Venugopal had handled are the Mandal case, Ayodhya dispute, Presidential reference regarding appointment of Judges and also the case involving judicial appointments.

 He had also represented former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the wealth case and defended her in the petition challenging her appointment as Chief Minister. He argued in the Presidential reference in Gujarat elections case in 2002. He was also the counsel for senior BJP leader L.K.Advani in Babri Masjid demolition case and argued against slapping of conspiracy charge against him.

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4) Aadhaar-issuing authority UIDAI on 1 July 2017 issued which important notification regarding operation of Aadhaar centers? – From September 2017 all Aadhaar centers will function only from government premises

Explanation: On 1 July 2017 Aadhaar-issuing authority Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) asked states to ensure that all enrolments, even those by private agencies, shift to government or municipal premises from external sites by September 2017.

 The move will have a bearing on 25,000 active enrolment centres across India and ensure that they come under direct supervision of the authorities. It is also expected to curb cases of overcharging by private operators as enrolment and updation can be closely monitored by the government.

 The latest move assumes significance as most government and other services such as benefits, subsidies and services like PAN, GST, bank accounts, passports and property registration now require Aadhaar.

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5) Which public sector bank on 1 July 2017 issued communication to its customers that it will block all Maestro debit cards from 31 July 2017? – Punjab National Bank (PNB)

Explanation: According to a communication issued by public sector-based Punjab National Bank (PNB) on 1 July 2017, its customers holding Maestro debit cards will face a card blockage if they fail to replace it with a more secure EMV chip based card by 31 July 2017. The bank said that it will block all Maestro debit cards from 31 July.

 The bank will not charge anything for the replacement and it will be provided free of cost. The replacement is as per RBI advisory issued in 2015, asking all the banks to migrate to a much secured EMV chip and pin based cards by 31 December 2018, irrespective of the validity period of the cards. And from 31 January 2016 onwards, banks are directed to issue only EMV based debit and credit cards.

 PNB has identified that there are about one lakh customers with old Maestro debit cards and has started sending them SMSes as well.

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6) Who took over as the new CEO and MD of construction and infrastructure major L&T on 1 July 2017 thus marking the end of nearly two-decade-long tenure of A.M. Naik at the helm of the company? – S.N. Subrahmanyan

Explanation: S.N. Subrahmanyan became the new head of Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as he took charge as company’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) on 1 July 2017. The event marked a major change in leadership positions at L&T where A.M. Naik has served for over 52 years, including as its head for over 17 years. He will now work as Group Executive Chairman.

 Naik will assume the new role of Non-Executive Chairman for a period of three years beginning 1 October 2017, immediately upon his retirement as Executive Chairman on 30 September 2017.

 Under Naik’s leadership, L&T transformed into a $17-billion group with presence not only in engineering and construction but also in technology, manufacturing and financial services operating in over 30 countries.

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7) The Union Government during June 2017 launched the ‘National Biopharma Mission’ that aims at accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country. What is the name of a new ambitious programme launched under the mission that aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector? – Innovate in India (i3)

Explanation: The National Biopharma Mission was launched on 30 June 2017 by Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi. It is expected to bring together expertise from national and international corridors to provide strategic guidance and direction to move promising solutions through the product development value chain.

 On the other a new programme named “Innovate in India (i3)” was launched under this mission that is expected to witness an investment of US$ 250 million with US$ 125 million as a loan from World Bank.

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