Cabinet gave Nod for IOC, NTPC Stake Sale
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved plans to sell a 10% stake in State-run oil refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOCL) and 5% in power producer National thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).
- This sell will mop up about ? 13600 crore in this-fiscal year’s first disinvestment approval. The approvals are part of ? 41000 crore disinvestment target for the current financial year.
- The government currently holds 68.37% in IOC and 74.96% in NTPC. It sold 5% in REC and raised ? 1550 crore in April, 2015.
- The government already has approval of the Cabinet for sale of 5% stake each in Oil and Natural gas Commission (ONGC) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), and 10% each in National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Limited.
58% Immunisation Rate in Rural Areas, 67% in Urban
- As per the announcement of government of India on May 12, 2015, the current immunisation rate in urban India is 67.4% whereas in rural India it is only 58.5%.
- Lack of awareness among the parents about the benefits of vaccination, fear of side-effects of vaccination and non-availability of vaccines or vaccinators at session sites etc. are the main reasons for the low rate of immunisation.
- The Union government has also conducted special immunisation weeks from time to time in areas with pockets of low immunisation coverage while it is also implementing ‘Mission Indradhanush’ and target areas with partial immunisation and no immunisation in 201 high-focus districts.
- Under ‘Mission Indradhanush’, vaccination is provided to protect children against seven life-threatening diseases including Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles and Hepatitis-B.
Justice AP Shah Committee Formed to Look the Issue of MAT on Fils
- Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, had announced in Rajya Sabha on May 7, 2015 about the constitution of .a Committee headed by Justice AP Shah to look into, inter alia, the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on Foreign Institutional Investors (Fils).
- The Committee is expected to give its report on this issue expeditiously in order to resolve the issue of MAT between the tax authorities and the foreign investors.
- The MAT is used for companies; those pay less or zero tax due to the available exemptions to pay some tax. The issuance of such tax demand on Fils has disappointed them as they were exempted from paying such taxes from April 1, 2015. But, the tax authorities have demanded MAT in respect of previous years i.e., till 2014-15.
Lok Sabha Passed Bill to Deal with Black Money Stashed Abroad
- The Lok Sabha passed (Black money) Undisclosed Income and Foreign Assets Imposition of New Tax Bill on May 11, 2015 by voice vote.
- It is a stringent law to unearth black money stashed overseas. The Bill proposes amendment to Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.
- For nondisclosure of foreign income or assets outside India, penalty will be equal to three times the amount of tax payable i.e., 90% of the undisclosed income in addition to tax payable at 30%.
- In case of failure to furnish return in respect to foreign income or assets, there will be of ? 10 lakh.
- The law is part of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s crackdown on black money, which makes hiding wealth overseas a criminal offence attracting up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.
- Those abetting in stashing wealth overseas, including tax advisors, financial advisors, banks and financial institutions, will also face jail terms of up to seven years.
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Lok Sabha Passed Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 201A
- The Lok Sabha passed Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 on April 23, 2015 for trying juveniles as adults. Earlier, the Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014.
- The Bill has special provisions to tackle heinous offences like murder and rape committed by juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years. The new legislation would replace the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.
- It clearly defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous and defines differentiated processes for each category.
- The Bill provides that in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person between 16 and 18 years it will be examined by the Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a child or as an
Parliament Passed Indo-Bangla Land Boundary Bill
- The Union Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the Constitutional (119th Amendment Bill), 2013 on May 5, 2015, to operationalise the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh that entails exchange of enclaves by both countries.
- The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on May 6, 2015 and finally Lok Sabha passed it on May 7, 2015. The Bill now after the assent of the President will enter in to the statue book as Constitutional 100th Amendment Act, 2015.
Union Cabinet gave Approval to New Schemes
- The Union Cabinet gave approval to three major social security initiatives that were launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 9, 2015. They will be linked to individual user’s bank account. They are announced in the government’s budget.
- The schemes are
- Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)
- Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
- Atal Pension Yojana (APY)
- The PMSBY will offer a renewable one-year accidental death-cum-disability cover of ? 2 lakh for partial/ permanent disability to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-70 years for a premium of ? 12 per annum per subscriber.
- The PMJJBY on the other hand will offer a renewable one year life cover of ? 2 lakh to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of ? 330 per annum per subscriber.
Lok Sabha Passed Goods and Services Tax Bill
- The Lok Sabha passed the Constitutional 122nd Amendment Bill for introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on May 6, 2015 with 352 votes in favour. The Bill seeks to carry out new direct tax regime in the country.
- By inserting the Article-279A, the Bill proposes to empower both States and the Centre to levy the GST, which will subsume the services tax, excise duties, stamp duties, entry tax and central sales tax.
- It proposes that the Centre must empowered to levy tax on sales of goods and States get to tax services. It has been estimated that the efficiency and savings from the shift to a well-designed GST regime can boost India’s growth by up to 2.5 percentage points.
Rajya Sabha Passed Bill to Reduce Workload on Delhi High Court
- The Rajya Sabha passed the Delhi High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2014 on May 6, 2015, which seeks to reduce workload of the Delhi High Court by transfering thousands of civil suits valued up to? 2 crore to the 11 district courts in Delhi.
- The Bill will not only reduce the burden from Delhi High Court but lead to ‘speedy’ disposal of cases helping the litigants. At present, all suits above ? 20 lakh are heard by the High Court.
- At present, 11 District Courts were functioning at six places in Delhi and three more are coming in the national capital.
- The Bill includes exchange of territories in Asom, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs had also recommended.a constitution amendment bill to enable the swapping of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.
- The Bill was placed in the Rajya Sabha in 2013 and subsequently referred to a select committee, which unanimously recommended implementation of the deal.
Prime Minister Released Commemorative Coin on Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati
- The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin to mark the birth centenary of Swami Chinmayananda on May 8, 2015 in the honour of pioneering work of Swami Chinmayananda in the field of education and social reform.
- As a renowned Hindu spiritual leader and teacher he had inspired the formation of a global nonprofit organisation called Chinmaya Mission to spread the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta which is found in the Upanishads that epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.
- Swami Chinmayananda as a visionary, who saw the need to inculcate India’s great culture and spiritual traditions, through the English medium, among an ‘elite’ class of people, who had moved away from this heritage.
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State of the World’s Mothers Report 2015
- As per the ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ Report, 2015, India has slipped into ranking 140th from last year’s 137th, on an index of four indicators behind countries like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Iraq.
- The researchers compiled the index of 179 countries by using data from UN agencies to show where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.
- The top of the table was dominated by European countries and Norway replaced Finland at pole position. The US ranked 33rd • and the UK 23rd. Somalia placed at last as the worst place.
- State of the World’s Mothers’ report measure risk of maternal death, under-five mortality rate, expected number of years of formal schooling, the gross national income per capita and participation of women in government.
Union Cabinet Approved Amendment in Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved an amendment to the Whistle Blowers Protection Act of 2011, on May 6, 2015 by moving an Amendment Bill in Parliament during the Budget Session, 2015.
- The amendment incorporates ‘necessary provisions’ to keep issues of national security out of its purview which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the State, scientific or economic interest of the State, relations with a foreign State or leads to incitement of an offence.
- Safeguard have also been provided in respect of such disclosures which have been exempted under Section-8( 1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- The Bill was previously passed by the Lok Sabha, in December, 2011 and the Rajya Sabha had passed it on February, 2014 and it received the President’s assent on May, 2014.
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