Govt. no longer certain about April 2016 deadline – (Economics)
- Perhaps for the first time, the government has taken a less-than-definite stance on whether the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will meet its April 2016 deadline, citing the actions of the Congress Party in Parliament as a major hindrance. The government has so far in all its communications been certain about meeting the deadline.
- During a Cabinet briefing later on Wednesday, the Finance Minister said that the Government had decided not to hold a special session of Parliament to pass the GST Constitution Amendment Bill and will recommend to the President to prorogue the Monsoon Session.
Conditional nod for uranium sale to India – (International Relation)
- The Australian government says it is “examining” a report by a parliamentary committee that has recommended more safeguards in India’s nuclear programme before the government can approve uranium sales.
- The report was released by the Joint Standing committee on Treaties (JSCOT) that has been studying the Indo-Australian nuclear deal that was signed by Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi in September 2014.
Cabinet approves much awaited guidelines – (Economics)
- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved much awaited spectrum trading guidelines that will allow telecom companies to buy and sell spectrum. This is expected to help address the problem of shortage of spectrum, leading to better quality of services for mobile phone users.
- The decision comes close on heels of the government allowing companies to share airwaves in the same band so as to reduce call drops. Presently, spectrum can be acquired by companies only through government auctions. Industry has been demanding clarity on these guidelines for a long time.
They are refugees, not migrants – (International Relation)
- By referring to those reaching Europe’s shores as migrants, the European Union’s leaders are trying to mislead the public about the real nature of the crisis.
Dealing with hate speech, effectively – (Indian Polity)
- I don’t pretend that counterspeech can bring around a lot of people who’ve spent a lot of time disseminating hateful messages online. What is possible is to shift the discourse norms to influence what the audience online thinks is acceptable.
- You can prosecute people [for messages posted online], but sometimes prosecutions can only make their targets more famous.
The starkness of being nowhere – (Indian Polity)
- Xenophobia triggered during the early 1980s was successful in convincing the Indian establishment that ‘infiltration’ of Bangladeshi nationals was putting Assamese culture in danger.
- The National Register of Citizens in Assam, being prepared by the Central government under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court, will leave more questions than it will have answered, one of them being about the prospective statelessness of lakhs of Bengali settlers.
India in no position to meet SDGs – (Social Issues)
- Beginning 2016, India will have to implement the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 associated targets, a big leap from the eight global development goals and 18 associated targets, which comprised the Millennium Development Goals.
- Aiming at global systemic reform, the first seven SDGs are an extension of the MDGs; goals 8, 9 and 10 cover aspects such as inclusiveness and jobs, infrastructure and industrialisation; and distribution; and the final set of seven goals lay down the framework for sustainability spanning urbanisation; consumption and production; climate change; resources and environment; peace and justice; and the means of implementation and global partnership for it.
- While the question of access to technology runs across the SDGs, there is no agreement on a technology facilitation mechanism which India strongly supports.
States get notice for laxity in aiding acid attack survivors – (Social Issues)
- The Supreme Court asked the governments of four States on Wednesday to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for failure to submit a comprehensive programme for the rehabilitation and treatment of acid attack survivors.
- In a stern message that the court wants positive action in this issue from the government side, a Bench, comprising Justices M.Y. Eqbal and C. Nagappan, gave the Chief Secretaries of Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh a fortnight’s time to respond to the contempt-of-court notice.
Irrational violence – (Indian Polity)
- The most striking commonality among the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar (in Pune, August 2013), Govind Pansare (in Kolhapur, February 2015) and M.M. Kalburgi (in Dharwad, August 2015) is not the modus operandi — motorcycle-borne men shooting to kill and speeding away — but the intolerance and hatred toward their strong views on religion and superstition that the acts reflect.
- Though investigators have found no substantive leads in any of these cases yet, and the killers’ motives remain unclear, there is little doubt that the three rationalists had provoked religious fanatics and sectarian elements in a deeply conservative society.
- What is particularly worrying is that the killings have been meant as a warning to other writers and intellectuals who may dare to question established belief systems.
Government clears two gold schemes – (Economics)
- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved two schemes — the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme and the Gold Monetisation Scheme — that could bring an estimated 20,000 tonnes of idle gold lying with Indian consumers into the economy and also reduce India’s dependence on gold imports.
- Through the Gold Monetisation Scheme, gold in any form can be deposited with banks for a period of one to 15 years. This gold will earn interest and redemption will be at the prevailing market value at the end of the tenure of deposit.
- The Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme is aimed at customers looking to buy gold as an investment. Under the Scheme, “there will be no need to buy actual gold as customers can buy gold bonds which will be relatable to the weight of gold,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while announcing the Union Cabinet’s decisions.
Make CAG accountable to Parliament: PAC – (Indian polity)
- In a potentially controversial move, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament could recommend legislative changes, including a Constitutional amendment, to make the Comptroller and Auditor General accountable to Parliament.
- “During the 15th Lok Sabha, a suggestion was made by the then PAC that the Committee should be consulted before the appointment of the CAG and it should be part of the legislature like in the U.K. and Australia,” BJP MP and PAC member Nishikant Dubey said on Wednesday.
Asylum regime set for revamp – (International Relation)
- The EU executive has announced a drive aimed at radically overhauling dysfunctional and fragmented immigration policies in Europe, urging a common regime of EU border guards, the opening of legal channels to coordinate arrivals to Europe, as well as binding and permanent systems for absorbing the refugee wave fairly across the continent.
- In a major address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European commission, called for root-and-branch reform of disparate immigration policies in the EU, complained that national governments were failing to observe agreements on asylum procedures, and warned that several could be sanctioned.
Call for conservation of Himalayan ecosystems – (Environment)
- While the study of changes in the Himalayas and conservation of its ecosystems remains confined to research, this year, ‘Himalaya Diwas’ was a call for the conservation of the Himalayan ecosystems to be taken up as a public campaign.
- ‘Himalaya Diwas’ is being observed by activists since 2010, but on Wednesday, the State government too observed the day.