The Central Government has begun a review of the goods and services tax (GST) law so as to provide clarity on the various issues that have cropped up regularly since it implemented in the year 2017.
This review is being undertaken to clear the air on various issues such as whether the services provided by back offices of the multinational companies functioning in the country qualify as exports, which don’t have to pay tax.
Also, there is confusion regarding discounts which are reimbursed by the FMCG companies and the consumer durables companies to their dealers so as to sell the products at reduced prices, are liable for GST or not.
This undertaken review is expected to simplify various laws and reduce the ever cropping disputes.
The states and the central governments have received multiple representations from the industry regarding matters related to the issues concerning GST and they need to be addressed through this review.
States have also flagged multiple issues that need clarification either through a change in the law or the rules.
The government is also looking into the reduction of litigation over direct and indirect taxes, but GST disputes at multiple forums regarding are rising on a daily basis.
Several issues have conflicting views that also include the Authority for Advance Rulings. There are more than 200 companies which are involved in disputes on intermediary services.
These issues will be forwarded to the official GST Council for further discussions. Subsequently, based on their feedback a detailed proposal will be created and put forward to the council for a final decision.
The authorities of the state of Kerala have removed the upper age limit for transgender college students of the state who are seeking admission to numerous educational programs available in the State universities and its affiliated schools.
The resolution to remove the upper age limit has been done to encourage the transgender students in the State to pursue various postgraduate and undergraduate educational programs.
In the year 2018 the state authorities had sanctioned two seats reserved only for transpersons in all programs that are run by universities and affiliated schools in the State. This decision was taken to empower the transgender population of Kerala.
The authorities of Kerala had directed the state universities to undertake transgender coverage to deal with the differences faced by the college students who are transgender.
Views of the Kerala State Higher Education Council and the various universities of the state had been sought by the authorities before formulating the points on the basis of which the upper age limit for transgender candidates has been removed.
Kerala was the first State in India to have announced transgender coverage in the year 2015.
The upper age limit in the universities varied form program to program and this deterred in the admittance of extra transgender students. The universities of the state had requested the government to remove or relax the upper age limit for transgender students and the state authorities taking everything into account came up with this decision.
The Union Cabinet has given its approval of the formation of a Central University in Ladakh. This project cost for the formation of this university will be Rs 750 crore.
In four years the first phase of the university will be completed.
To facilitate the formation of Central University in Ladakh the bill for amending Central Universities Act, 2009 will be introduced.
Establishing this university will aid the propagation of higher education in this region.
The jurisdiction of this Central University will cover the entire region of Ladakh including Kargil and Leh.
Other announcements of the Cabinet
The formation of an integrated multipurpose corporation was also announced by the cabinet. This corporation will shoulder development projects in Ladakh.
This corporation will also look after the development of tourism, industries, and various transport services in Ladakh as well as marketing of the regions handicrafts and local products.
This corporation will also aid in the development of infrastructure in this region and will as Ladakh’s the primary infrastructure construction agency.
This corporation will be formed under the Companies Act and will have an authorised share capital of Rs 25 crore with an annual outlay of Rs 2.42 crore.
This corporation will also create job opportunities in this region.
Ladakh is a Union Territory of India and it was established in the year 2019. Radha Krishna Mathur is the Lieutenant General of Ladakh.
The cabinet of the state of Meghalaya has approved the Meghalaya Youth Policy 2021. This policy aims to create a field for the youths of the state in achieving their full potential and becoming skilled, engaged, responsible, creative, and empowered members of the state as well as the country.
Currently, Meghalaya doesn’t have a policy for the youths of the state and hence, the state government decided upon the formation of this policy.
According Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, 31% of the population of the state falls in the 15-29 years age category and this policy was much needed to channelize the youths towards a productive future.
This policy has been drafted by the Sports and Youth Affairs Department of Meghalaya.
This policy is in sync with the Meghalaya government’s vision towards the transformation of the state to rank amongst the top 10 states in 10 years on the basis of GSDP per capita as well as the SDG ranking.
The policy aims to address major concerns on nine identified key areas that are Education, Counselling & Mentoring, Health & Wellbeing, Sports, Employment Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Engagement & Leadership, Cultural & creative industries and Inclusion and Environmental Consciousness.
This youth policy is very much action-oriented; planned implementations of 45 programs has been planned that would then be measured by 54 performance monitoring indicators.
The performance indicators of this policy have been mapped to 10 departments and will measure quarterly, bi-annually as well as annually.
The success and implementation of this policy are based on various performance indicators which includes human resource development, infrastructure creation and up gradation, awareness campaigns and various other parameters.
This policy will be result oriented will be evaluated quarterly, biannually and annually.
The policy covers the lifecycle of youth and includes early childhood interventions which are implemented through various policies such as Meghalaya School Improvement Plan (MSIP), Early Childhood Education Mission, FIT India, setup of academies of excellence in the area of arts and culture and sports infrastructure up-gradation.
Meghalaya has a population of about 38.29 lakh people, of which over 74% per cent belongs to the under 35 year’s category. Programs relating to the 5-14 years age group will also be emphasized and made part of the youth development framework of the state. Conrad Sangma is the Chief Minister of the state and its capital is Shillong.
Amsterdam, has unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge. This project has been opened on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in the city of Amsterdam. The opening ceremony of this bridge was attended by the Queen of the Netherlands, Máxima.
About the 3D-printed steel bridge
The length of the bridge is nearly 40 feet.
It is a 6-ton stainless steel structure.
This bridge has been constructed by MX3D an Amsterdam based 3D metal printing company.
The entire printing process, with the help of four robots, took just six months.
The bridge has been designed by the Joris Laarman Lab and was first unveiled during the Dutch Design Week in the year 2018.
After several load-testing rounds were carried out in 2019 there were plans to install the structure in early 2020. However, the ongoing site preparation work at the canal delayed the bridge’s installation.
Tenure of the bridge
The stainless steel structure has been named the MX3D Smart Bridge and it will remain in place for minimum of two years while the previous footbridge which was spread over the canal undergoes renovation. During its two-year tenure this bridge will act as a living laboratory and its performance will be analyzed and monitored in real time by researchers from the Alan Turing Institute’s Data-Centric Engineering Programme, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.
An Rs 6,322-crore production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for specialty steel has been approved by the Union Cabinet. This move is aimed at boosting the domestic exports and manufacturing from this sector.
Incentives worth Rs 6,322 crore will be provided for over five years and this scheme will create over 5,25,000 jobs.
It will boost manufacturing and help in reducing imports
This PLI scheme will cover wear resistant/high strength steel; plated/coated steel products; steel wires and electrical steel and alloy steel products; specialty rails.
Production of high grade specialty steel in the country will be boosted by this scheme.
Enhanced exports with minimising dependence on the imports of high-end steel will be enforced through this scheme.
Investment of approximately Rs 40,000 crore with a capacity addition of 25 MT will be brought in through this scheme.
The scheme also proposes to incentivise all the eligible manufacturers in the country by paying in the range of 4% to 12% incentive on the incremental production. The incentive will help in developing the Indian steel industry.
Any Indian registered company who are engaged in manufacturing of specialty steel grades will be eligible to participate in the PLI scheme.
Duration of the scheme
Commencing from 2023-24 for a duration of 5 years till the year 2027- 28.
Also, this scheme has a huge potential for employment generation. Around 5,25,000 employment will be generated in the country of which 68,000 will be direct employment while the rest will be indirect employment.
22nd July is organised as World Fragile X Awareness Day. On this day various landmarks and monuments are illuminated by various communities globally.
About World Fragile X Day
World Fragile X Day celebrates the families who have been impacted by Fragile X and highlights the progress of cure finding research.
On World Fragile X Day monuments and landmarks across the globe are illuminated.
World Fragile X Day began with FRAXA Research Foundation joining hands with the various communities around the world to raise Fragile X awareness while making progress toward effective treatments and a cure.
About Fragile X
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is genetic disease inherited from the parents to their children that causes developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Martin-Bell syndrome is another name of Fragile X Syndrome.
Among boys, the most common hereditary mental disability disease is the FXS and 1 in 4,000 boys are affected.
It’s less common in girls with 1 in every 8,000 being affected.
People suffering from FXS usually experience developmental and learning problems.
This disease is a chronic condition and only some people who are suffering from FXS are able to live independently.
Fragile X Society-India
Fragile X Society-India has been a support system for families impacted with the condition and also strives to create awareness about it. Since it causes intellectual disability and is inherited across generations it is important to create awareness regarding this disease. Close to 4,00,000 individuals in India suffer from this disease and this needs attention. Also in solidarity with Fragile X Society- India, various landmarks will also light up in green around the country.
On 22 July, 2021 the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha amid the hullabaloo in the house due to the Pegasus snooping scandal.
This bill will bring uniformity in the application of the law which are related to navigation and inland waterways within India.
The Bill was introduced Sarbananda Sonowal who is the newly appointed Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister.
This bill seeks to provide protection of life and cargo, safety of navigation and prevention of pollution.
The Inland Vessels Bill will promote safe and economical transportation.
This Bill has also been brought to bring in accountability and transparency of the administration of the inland water transportation, survey, strengthen procedures governing inland vessels their construction, manning and navigation and registration.
At present, India has 4,000 kms of operational inland waterways in the country.
About Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways
On 8th November, 2020 the Ministry of Shipping was renamed to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. The current minister for this department is Sarbananda Sonowal.
Rasmi Ranjan Das, a Joint secretary of the Finance Ministry has been appointed to the UN tax committee as a member for the term period 2021 to 2025. Rasmi Ranjan Das is Joint Secretary – (FT&TR-I), Central Board of Direct Taxes, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
About the UN tax committee
Formally known as the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, this committee helps the countries’ efforts to advance stronger and forward-looking tax policies which are adapted to suit the realities of a digitalised economy, globalised trade and investment and the ever worsening environmental degradation.
This committee also assists countries in their efforts to prevent multiple or double taxations and non-taxation. Also, it helps in broadening their tax base, curb international tax evasion and avoidance as well as strengthen their tax administrations.
The committee also focuses on the developing countries and their various policy environments.
A majority of the newly appointed members of this committee are from the developing countries.
Since its inception, for the first time this Committee has a majority of women experts in its panel.
The UN Tax Committee works closely with various observers from government, business and academia as well as civil society to develop, guide and to encourage an inclusive setting of policies.
Other members of the committee
Other members of the committee hail from countries such as Chile, Nigeria, Malawi, South Korea, Ireland, Mexico, Myanmar, Indonesia, Russia, Angola, Norway, Canada, Italy, Germany, China and Sweden. They have been appointed by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
First meeting of the new members of the Committee
In October, 2021 the first meeting with new members of the Committee will take place, during which the experts will discuss and determine their respective work plans.
In the state of Madhya Pradesh, the cities of Orchha and Gwalior have been selected by UNESCO under its ‘Historic Urban Landscape Project.’ This project was started in the year 2011.
UNESCO’s Historic Urban Landscape project for the cities of Orchha and Gwalior was launched through video conferencing by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Six cities of South Asia, including Indian cities of Varanasi and Ajmer are already involved in this project. Gwalior and Orchha have been included as the 7th and 8th cities of South Asia.
UNESCO will prepare the management and development of these cities.
This project will help in boosting the tourism of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Along with this additional employment opportunities will be created.
These cities will be jointly developed by UNESCO, the Government of India and the state of Madhya Pradesh by putting primary focus on their cultural and historical improvement.
By implementing this project of UNESCO, full care of the history, culture, traditions, nature as well as heritage of the cities will be sustainably developed.
About Historic Urban Landscape Project
This project of UNESCO was started in the year 2011 with the primary aim of well-planned and all inclusive development of the fast-growing historical cities around the world, while keeping in mind to preserve the heritage and the culture.
Using the name “Taiwan,” Taiwan’s government will set up its first office in Europe, in the Baltic nation of Lithuania. The Taiwan government has come up with this decision as it seeks to strengthen its diplomatic presence across the globe with the ever increasing pressure from Beijing.
This decision has drawn a rebuke from China while it was praised by the USA.
Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of Taiwan announced the government’s decision to open its office in Lithuania.
The other diplomatic outposts of Taiwan on the continent are named “Taipei.”
Taiwan Affairs Office of Beijing has issued statement saying that the formation of the Lithuania office is an attempt at seeking independence. China has also urged Lithuania to adhere to China’s one-China principle.
China has always firmly opposed any formal relations between Taiwan and other countries. Taiwan is a country in East Asia and its capital is Taipei. China claims Taiwan to be its province under its one-China policy and it is officially known as the Republic of China.
On July 21, 2021, The International Monetary Fund has said that it is estimating that global growth for 2021 will be about 6%, the same that was forecasted in April, but some countries are growing faster and others more slowly.
Kristalina Georgieva, IMF’s Managing Director, said that economic recovery will be truncated unless the vaccination pace for COVID-19 picks up.
In the month of April IMF had projected that global growth for 2021 would hit 6%, a rate which is unseen since the 1970s as global economies start to recover.
Georgieva stated that the lack of access to vaccines in the developing countries along with rapid spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was threatening to slow the economic recovery’s momentum.
The next World Economic Outlook forecast update is scheduled to be released by the International Monetary Fund on 27th July, but the IMF’s projected global growth rate of 6% for this year would remain.
Some countries are now projected to grow faster while some are projected to grow slower.
IMF-World Bank goal was to provide 50 billion USD to countries to step up their COVID vaccination rates but it is being estimated that it will likely require more than the initially envisioned 11 billion doses as booster shots may now be necessary to arrest the spread of the virus, and also to cover vaccine losses in some developing countries lacking cold storage facilities.
About International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is headquartered in Washington, D.C and was formed in the year 1944. It is an international financial institution that consists of 200 countries working towards global monetary and financial cooperation. Kristalina Georgieva is the current MD of IMF and the Chief Economist is Gita Gopinath.
On July 21, 2021, while addressing the 11th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) meeting, S Jaishankar India’s External Affairs Minister has called for a “collective and collaborative” response to effectively deal with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, saying that national boundaries are not respected by this virus.
India considers the Mekong region of great importance and hence seeks a multi-dimensional engagement with Mekong countries.
India wants to identify newer areas of cooperation and doing so will broaden the partnership of the countries.
Addressing the meeting, S Jaishankar has said that India wants to promote better connectivity in this region through economic, digital and people-to-people connectivity.
In the meeting finding ways to the fight against the pandemic through better MGC partnership was reflected upon. S Jaishankar said that the partner nations need to work together in addressing the crisis.
India said that Mekong Ganga Cooperation stands on a strong foundation based on shared historical and geographical ties and cooperation among the countries should be improved to bring progress and prosperity.
About MGC Initiative
The MGC initiative was launched in the year 2000 with the aim of boosting cooperation in tourism, connectivity and culture and other range of areas. This initiative comprises of six countries, they are: India, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
New Generation Akash Missile (Akash-NG), a surface-to-air Missile has been successfully flight-tested Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) on 21 July, 2021 from Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the coast of Odisha.
Having a range of 80km Akash-NG has a better range compared to the original version which has a range of around 25 km.
The flight trial was conducted from a land-based platform with all weapon system elements such as Command, Control and Communication System, Multifunction Radar and launcher participating in the deployment configuration.
DRDL, Hyderabad in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories has developed this missile system.
Representatives from the Indian Air Force witnessed this launch.
ITR, in order to capture flight data, deployed Radar and Telemetry and Electro-Optical Tracking System.
This missile has demonstrated that it can easily neutralizing agile and fast aerial threats due to its high manoeuvrability.
Aftermath of the tests
Complete flight data captured during the tests has confirmed the successful performance of the weapon system. Akash-NG weapon system will give a boost to the Indian Air Force’s arsenal. Production agencies BDL and BEL also participated in this trial.
After the successful completion of the tests Rajnath Singh, Union Defence Minister congratulated DRDO, Indian Air Force, BEL, BDL and the entire defence industry and also stated that the Missile will strengthen the Indian Force.