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When:
September 14, 2017 @ 1:00 am
2017-09-14T01:00:00+05:30
2017-09-14T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

                                                    14 SEPTEMBER 2017       

Sr. No. Topic News

1.        

GS III: ECONOMY – GST

Petrol, diesel should come under GST, says Pradhan

2.        

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – JAPAN

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe promises peace, prosperity in Indo-Pacific region

3.        

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – JAPAN

India, Japan sign pact on stem cell research

4.        

GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY

India has ‘narrow’ pool of mustard varieties, say agricultural scientists

5.        

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – RUSSIA

Indo-Russian war games in Oct.

6.        

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Russia comes forward to rebuild Aleppo

7.        

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Suu Kyi not to attend key UN meet

8.         

GS III: ECONOMY – PSUs

BPCL eyes GAIL, Oil India for merger

9.         

GS III: ECONOMY – DIGITAL

TRAI chief calls for zero cost for digital transactions

GS III: ECONOMY – GST

Petrol, diesel should come under GST, says Pradhan

  • Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan ruled out any government intervention to disrupt the daily revision in petrol and diesel prices despite the Rs. 7.3 per litre spike since July 2017, saying the reform will continue.
  • Saying that many States had drastically increased value-added tax, he said, “It is high time that the GST Council considered bringing the petroleum products in the ambit of GST.”
  • He, however, remained non-committal on cutting taxes to soften the blow of the relentless rise in prices since the government need to finance huge infrastructure and social projects has to be balanced with consumer needs.
  • India relies on imports to meet 80% of its needs and so domestic fuel rates have been aligned to the movement of equivalent product prices in the international market since April 2002.
  • Previously, the rates were changed every fortnight but since June 16 they are being revised daily, Mr. Pradhan said, adding that the daily revision immediately passes on the benefit of any reduction in international oil prices to consumers and avoids sharp spikes by spreading them in small doses.
  • Mr. Pradhan said the global prices had risen due to factors such as the hurricanes in the U.S., and there were already indications of a “softening in the rates”. “As a result of these hurricanes, 13% of U.S. refinery capacity was shut down,” he said.
  • Asked if the government would cut excise duty, he said, “That is a call the Finance Ministry has to take but one thing is very clear — we have to balance developmental needs with consumer aspirations.”
  • “We have to fund massive highways and road development plans, railway modernisation and expansion, rural sanitation, drinking water, primary healthcare and education. Allocations on all these heads has gone up significantly. Where do we get resources for these?”

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – JAPAN

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe promises peace, prosperity in Indo-Pacific region

  • Highlighting common ‘strategic interests’ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who arrived in Ahmedabad said that India-Japan bilateral ties will shape the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The visit of Mr. Abe is significant in view of the weeks-long standoff between India and China at the Doklam plateau of Bhutan when the Chinese belligerent rhetoric indicated a negative turn in ties with India.
  • Mr. Abe’s senior advisor Katsuyuki Kawai visited India earlier and indicated that Japan would seek ballistic and cruise missiles to deal with the dual threat of ‘expansionist’ China and a nuclear-powered North Korea.
  • Reports suggest that Japan is likely to take up the sale of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft that India has been eyeing for the past few years.
  • The other major discussion is likely to be over the future of India-Japan nuclear ties which has acquired a new broader scope after Japan secured the legislative ratification for the deal.
  • While the nuclear deal between the two countries will allow both sides to cooperate in building nuclear reactors, it will also allow Westinghouse, American subsidiary of Japanese nuclear major Toshiba, to speed up its projects in India.
  • While the visit is likely to highlight the High Speed Rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, it will also showcase Japanese willingness to invest in the infrastructure and strategic sectors in South Asia where it has emerged as the largest strategic partner of India.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – JAPAN

India, Japan sign pact on stem cell research

  • In the light of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India, the two countries have signed a host of agreements to further cooperation in science and technology, including research into stem-cells for making bone-marrow transplants more accessible.
  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) already has an India-Japan cooperative programme that has Christian Medical College & Hospital, Vellore, and Kyoto University, Japan, as participants.
  • They renewed the agreement for five more years.
  • “The aim of the programme is to develop infrastructure and expertise for India to be a competitive force in regenerative medicine and induced pluripotent stem cell biology. The focus of the collaboration is on developing treatments for sickle-cell anaemia, Beta thalassemia and brain disorders, and creating a haplobank relevant to Indian populations,” said a press release.
  • haplobank refers to a specially maintained collection of embryonic cells that can, in theory, be directed to become any kind of cell and thus progenitor of replacement organs.
  • Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka was a co-recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering ways to reprogram mature stem cells.

GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY

India has ‘narrow’ pool of mustard varieties, say agricultural scientists

  • Slamming activists for spreading “misinformation” on genetically-modified (GM) mustard, India’s premier association of agricultural scientists has said that India has a “narrow” pool of mustard varieties.
  • That India had over 9,000 varieties of mustard and was the “centre of origin and diversity (of mustard) ” was among the key arguments made by Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court, as part of a petition by activist Aruna Rodrigues.
  • Earlier a Supreme Court-appointed Technical Advisory Committee had also recommended a stay on GM mustard citing the breadth of India’s genetic diversity in mustard and that introducing it would lead to “irreversible” contamination.
  • “Contrary to GM basher’s propaganda – that very high diversity is available in Indian mustard – scientific analysis has shown that the Indian gene pool of mustard is very narrow… as a consequence, in spite of extensive efforts by our plant breeders – there is very little impact of pure-line breeding on mustard yields in recent years,” says a report by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), a 600-member body of agricultural scientists.
  • In June 2017, a 230-member quorum of the NAAS had passed a resolution unanimously supporting the commercial release ofDhara Mustard Hybrid 11 (DMH-11), a transgenic food crop that had been cleared by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for commercial release.
  • “The base is narrow and that’s why we need hybrid technology for developing better mustard varieties,” Panjab Singh, president, NAAS, said.
  • Though there were wild-related species, these were largely untenable for commercially extracting oil, he added.
  • Unlike in wheat, for instance, where the male and female can be crossed to make a wide genetic range of hybrid seeds, mustard is a self-pollinating plant that isn’t amenable to such crossings.
  • DMH-11 uses a combination of genes from a soil bacterium that makes mustard amenable to hybridisation.
  • The NAAS also refuted claims that non-GM varieties of rapeseed (a sister species of mustard and an oilseed) in Europe out-yielded GM varieties grown in Canada.
  • In a rejoinder, a coalition of activists slammed the NAAS report and accused it of being a “public relations” agent.
  • The source of the number of species is the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (an agriculture ministry body)… It is unscientific for a scientific body to ignore the diversity that exists, and the implications on that diversity from GM mustard,” the Coalition for GM-Free India said in a statement.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA – RUSSIA

Indo-Russian war games in Oct.

  • India and Russia have begun discussions to work out the modalities for their first tri-service military exercise to be held in October.
  • It will also be India’s first bilateral military exercise with any country involving all three services.
  • “The Indra exercise is scheduled from October 19 to 29.
  • In April 2017, the two countries decided to upgrade Indra from an individual service exercise into an integrated tri-service.
  • “The aim of the exercise is to carry out joint exercises for suppression of international terrorist activities under the United Nations mandate,” the source added.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Russia comes forward to rebuild Aleppo

  • A strongman chief of Russia’s Chechnya region, has offered to repair the damage that Aleppo’s ancient Umayyad mosque sustained in ferocious clashes four years ago,.
  • Syria’s second city was battered by four years of fighting between rebels in the east and government forces in the west, until an evacuation deal at the end of 2016 brought it under regime control.
  • In September 2015, Moscow began carrying out air strikes that have allowed Syrian troops to retake swathes of territory — including Aleppo.
  • Now that it is back under government control, Russia appears keen to help rebuild it.
  • Moscow said it will send some 4,000 tonnes of building materials and construction equipment to Syria to help “rebuild vital infrastructure for settlements freed from terrorists”.
  • Moscow has also dispatched its military police to prevent looting and maintain order.
  • Syria has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran for the provision of five gas units to help generate electricity and restore power to Aleppo.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Suu Kyi not to attend key UN meet

  • Myanmar’s national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, facing outrage over violence that has forced about 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, cancelled a trip to the upcoming UN General Assembly because of the crisis, her office said.
  • The exodus of refugees, sparked by the security forces’ fierce response to a series of Rohingya militant attacks, is the most pressing problem Ms. Suu Kyi has faced since becoming leader last year.
  • Critics have called for her to be stripped of her Nobel peace prize for failing to do more to halt the strife which the UN rights agency said was a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
  • International pressure has been growing on Buddhist-majority Myanmar to end the violence in the western State of Rakhine that began on Aug. 25 when Rohingya militants attacked 30 police posts and an army camp.
  • The raids triggered a sweeping military counteroffensive against the insurgents, whom the government labels terrorists. Refugees say the offensive is aimed at pushing Rohingya out of Myanmar.
  • Numerous Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine State have been torched but authorities have denied that security forces or Buddhist civilians have been setting the fires. Instead, they blame the insurgents.

GS III: ECONOMY – PSUs

BPCL eyes GAIL, Oil India for merger

  • Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), India’s second largest state-owned oil marketer is mulling a merger with GAIL (India), India’s largest gas distributor, and Oil India, the country’s second largest explorer, to create an integrated energy giant after the Centre approved the merger of rival Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (HPCL) with ONGC.
  • BPCL, which got Maharatna status recently, has written to the petroleum ministry about its ambitious plan and is waiting to hear back from the government.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had set the ball rolling on the merger of state owned oil firms in his 2017 budget speech when he seplt out the government’s intent to create integrated public sector ‘oil majors’ to match the performance of global oil firms and domestic private sector firms.

GS III: ECONOMY – DIGITAL

TRAI chief calls for zero cost for digital transactions

  • While calling for eliminating costs associated with digital payments for a sustained growth of such transactions, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma emphasised on the need for a speedy solution to issues of data ownership and privacy in the country.
  • Stating that India had the most robust digital payment infrastructure, Mr. Sharma said “if we want to have a sustainable digital transactions system, we must ensure that MDR or merchant discount rate is zero, especially for small value transactions because that is where the tipping point will come.”

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