(Current Affairs For SSC Exams) National Events | December 2014

December-2014
 

India a moderate-performing country: report

  •  India has been named a moderate-performing country in combating climate change with Australia being the worst, according to a report released at climate negotiations.

  •  India was ranked 31. “India climbs five places and continues to profit from the very low level of per capita emissions, but overall CO2 emissions have risen constantly over the past five years to about 40 per cent,” said the Climate Change Performance Index 2015 report by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

  •  Australia was the worst performing industrial country in terms of climate change in 2014. The report by two NGOs said the poor ranking was due in part to policy changes made by the current coalition government.

N. Srinivasan must keep off BCCI meetings: SC

  •  The Supreme Court questioned the “rationale” behind N. Srinivasan stepping aside as BCCI president but attending its meetings as Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president.

  •  “You even attend the meeting of the working committee of the BCCI to delay the BCCI elections.

  •  We understand your passion for the game, but don’t be so passionate,” Justice T.S. Thakur told Mr. Srinivasan’s counsel Kapil Sibal.

RS agree for 49% FDI in insurance

  •  Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee Chandan Mitra tabled the report on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, recommending a hike in FDI in insurance sector from 26 to 49 per cent.

  •  The report, carrying dissent notes from four of the 15 members, incorporated Congress party’s demand for a composite cap on such investments.

  •  The dissenting parties include the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Janata Dal (United). These parties are opposed to further opening of the insurance sector to foreign investment.

  •  The Union Cabinet that met late in the evening approved the incorporation of amendments suggested by a Parliamentary select panel in the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008.

  •  Following the Cabinet’s approval, the Bill is expected to come up for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha next week.

Modi talked with Putin, discussed defence, energy

  •  Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to further boost cooperation between the two strategic partners in crucial sectors like defence, energy and trade at a time when Russian economy was facing Western sanctions.

  •  Mr. Putin, who arrived, is likely to push for enhancing supply of military hardware to India as well as expansion of bilateral economic engagement in a range of areas.

  •  It is the first annual summit meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Modi. The two leaders had met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July and during the G-20 summit in Australia last month.

  •  “The bond between the people of Russia & India is very strong. Our nations have stood by each other through thick and thin,” the Prime Minister said in another tweet.

  •  In his talks with Mr. Modi, both in restricted and delegation level formats, Mr. Putin is likely to seek deeper economic engagement with India with an aim to minimise impact of sanctions against Russia by the US and its Western allies over the Ukraine issue.

States rejected Centre’s GST Bill

  •  The States have rejected the draft Bill for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), dealing a major blow to the Centre’s resolve to roll it out at the earliest.

  •  The Centre-States stalemate has put a question mark over whether the government will be able to introduce the GST Constitution Amendment Bill during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

  •  Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha last month that he would introduce this Bill during the session. The GST rollout has missed several deadlines in the absence of a Centre-States consensus.

  •  At a meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, the States opposed the draft Bill and its proposal to extend the GST to petroleum goods and entry tax.

  •  “Consensus eludes the Centre and the States on the three main issues of compensation, petrol tax and entry tax,” Empowered Committee Chairman Abdul Rahim Rather told presspersons.

  •  He said the Empowered Committee would not support the Centre’s Bill unless it conceded the States’ three demands. The GST will subsume all excise and service taxes.

  •  The States want compensation from the Centre for the revenues they will lose over five years from the shift to the GST regime. They want a clause on the compensation to be inserted into the Bill, Mr. Rather said.

  •  The Centre’s proposed draft does not have such a provision at present. “We were surprised to know that the Centre has only agreed to one of our recommendations,” said Mr. Rather.

Better to ‘Make in India’ primarily for India: Raghuram Rajan

  •  Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan cautioned the government on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mantra, suggesting that India would have to look for regional and domestic demand for growth — to make in India primarily for India.

  •  Dr. Rajan said that at this stage, an exports-push strategy for growth would be ineffective; as the industrial world stagnated, many emerging markets were rethinking their export-led growth model, he said. He was delivering the Bharat Ram Memorial Lecture.

  •  “There is a danger when we discuss ‘Make in India’ of assuming it means a focus on manufacturing, an attempt to follow the export-led growth path that China followed … But the world as a whole is unlikely to be able to accommodate another export-led China,” Dr. Rajan said.

  •  Since the global economy was still weak, he argued, it would be much less likely to be able to absorb a substantial additional amount of imports in the foreseeable future.

  •  “Export-led growth will not be as easy for India as it was for the Asian economies that took that path before.”

  •  He also cautioned the Modi government against picking a particular sector such as manufacturing for encouragement, simply because it had worked well for China.

Govt. introduced Bill in LS to amend companies law

  •  The government introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the companies law to provide stringent punishment for illegal money pooling activities, among other things.

  •  The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014, introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, proposes as many as 14 changes in various provisions of the new companies law, which was passed by the previous UPA regime.

  •  The Bill proposes punishment for illegal money pooling activities, amid rising instances of people getting duped by such fraudulent schemes.

Lok Sabha passes coal mines bill, 2014

  •  The government assured the Lok Sabha that Coal India Ltd., would not be denationalised. “We are in fact strengthening it,” said Union Minister of State for Coal Piyush Goyal while steering The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, through the Lower House with a voice vote.

  •  Though some Opposition parties made out a case for referring the Bill to the Departmental Standing Committee, their resistance to the draft legislation petered out by the time the discussion was wrapped up.

  •  The Opposition strategy appeared to be to force the Bill to a Select Committee in the Rajya Sabha, where it has the strength to do so; using the Lok Sabha merely to voice their reservations, particularly on the end use clause which has “left a door open for discretion.”

  •  With the Opposition questioning the government’s haste in pushing the Bill without scrutiny, Mr. Goyal said such “alacrity” was needed owing to the Supreme Court order cancelling allocation of 204 coal blocks.

Electricity amendment Bill focuses on renewable energy

  •  The Electricity Amendment Bill 2014, introduced in the Lok Sabha, lays strong emphasis on promoting renewable energy generation in the country while also aiming at increasing accountability and transparency in the functioning of regulatory bodies.

  •  For the first time, the Bill, introduced by Power Minister Piyush Goyal, proposes to make it mandatory for any company establishing lignite and coal-based thermal power plants, to generate renewable energy.

  •  While the amount of renewable energy to be generated by such plants will be decided later, the Bill proposes it to be not less than 10 percent of the total installed capacity of a thermal plant.

  •  The Planning Commission had in March 2011, constituted a working group on power sector reforms. The group had recommended several amendments to the Electricity Act 2003.

Government pushes historic GST tax reform

  •  The Government took the first step towards switching to a Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime by introducing The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha amid demands for referring it to a Departmental Standing Committee.

  •  Though in favour of GST, Trinamool Congress opposed the introduction as some concerns of West Bengal were not addressed and the AIADMK followed suit citing irregularities and lacunae.

  •  Introducing the Bill, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pointed out that the issue had been discussed by a Standing Committee in the past and was non-committal on the Opposition demand.

  •  Assuring MPs that he “would not rush through” the Bill, he indicated that the Government was prepared to wait till the next session to get it passed.

  •  Later, briefing mediapersons, he said in his “personal view” the Bill does not need to be referred to a Standing Committee as it had already gone through the process. He added that the Government was hoping to roll it out in April 2016.

  •  Flagging key issues of concern, Mr. Jaitley said: “Service tax is entirely the Centre’s domain now. It is going to be shared with States. Places like Maharashtra, from where one-third of the national service tax comes, will benefit.

State Cabinet approved draft CRDA Bill

  •  The State Cabinet approved the draft Capital Regional Development Authority (CRDA) Bill with four changes. The Bill will be tabled in the Assembly on December 19.

  •  Besides giving nod to the changes in CRDA Bill, the meeting chaired by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu also discussed the Debt Redemption Scheme and the strategy to be adopted in the Assembly.

  •  The Cabinet approved transfer of assets and liabilities of Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority to the CRDA. The Chief Minister will be chairman of the 14-member CRDA and the Municipal Administration Minister vice chairman.

  •  The CRDA will have Rs. 1000 crore as development fund and Rs. 250 crore as working capital. A detailed master plan for the capital region will be ready in six months.

  •  It is learnt that the Cabinet also approved increase in retirement age of teachers in aided colleges from 58 years to 60 years and from 60 years to 62 years in the universities.

  •  Another important decision taken by the Cabinet is to allow intra-State sale of paddy and also allow export to other States if farmers themselves pay Central Sales Tax.

  •  The Cabinet which discussed various issues during the four-hour meeting approved proposals to fill 4,000 field assistant posts under MNREGA and 6,000 posts in Panchayat Raj departments. .

India successfully test fires GSLV Mark-III

  •  India moved forward in rocket technology with the successful flight testing of its heaviest next generation rocket and the crew module.

  •  Precisely at 9.30 a.m., the 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mark-III), standing 43.43-metre tall, freed itself from the second launch pad and with a reverberating deep throated roar, rose into the sky.

  •  With a thick orange flame at its tail, the expendable rocket ascended towards the heavens with one way ticket as its design life span is just around five minutes.

  •  The Rs.155-crore mission has twin purposes. The main purpose is to test the rocket’s atmospheric flight stability with around four tonne luggage.

  •  The second and incidental objective is to study the re-entry characteristics of the crew module — called Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment — its aero braking and validation of its end-to-end parachute system.

  •  According to an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official, it will be of the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate two to three people.

  •  Just over five minutes into the flight, the rocket spat out the giant cup cake shaped 3.7-tonne crew module at an altitude of 126 km.

India is third on black money list says report

  •  As India continues its pursuit of suspected black money stashed abroad, an international think-tank has ranked the country third globally with an estimated USD 94.76 billion (nearly Rs 6 lakh crore) illicit wealth outflows in 2012.

  •  Russia is on the top with USD 122.86 billion, followed by China at the second position (USD 249.57 billion) in terms of the quantum of black money moving out of a country for 2012 — the latest year for which these estimates have been made.
    Telangana decided to declare Dec.26 as public holiday

  •  Government of Telangana has issued an order declaring December 26 as a public holiday. Hitherto, it was an optional holiday only.

  •  Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao referred to Boxing Day (December 26) being declared as a public holiday when he addressed the gathering after laying the foundation stone for the ‘Christian Bhavan’.

Govt. employees under Lokpal Act have to disclose deposits in foreign banks

  •  Amending the rules for voluntary disclosure of assets and liabilities by government employees under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has effected some changes in the form, making it mandatory for them to disclose deposits in foreign banks.

  •  The deadline has been extended by four months from December 31. “Details of deposits in the foreign bank (s) to be given separately,” states the DoPT order, adding that government employees have to file statements of movable property separately for self, spouse and dependent child.

  •  While investments above Rs.2 lakh have to be reported individually, amounts below that can be reported together. Apart from cash and bank balance, government servants would now be required to also reveal details of other movable assets including furniture, fixtures, antiques, paintings and electronic equipment.

  •  However, this only if the total current value of any particular asset in any particular category exceeds two months' basic pay or Rs. 1 lakh.

  •  Another order amending the previous Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2014, gives six months more to the government to make further amendments to the rules formulated thereunder.

  •  While the government intends to make all the declarations public, many government officials have expressed concern that the information on their assets could be misused. The latest order does not have any provision ensuring secrecy of the disclosures made.
     

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