Current Affairs: 30 January 2017

GAAR will be effective April 1, 2017

  • Addressing investors' concerns ahead of GAAR implementation from April 1, the tax department said it will not interplay with their right to choose a method of transaction and won't apply if routing of funds through a jurisdiction is "based on non-tax commercial considerations".
  • The General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR), which seek to prevent companies from routing transactions through other countries to avoid taxes, can be invoked through a two-stage process involving a nod at the level of principal commissioner of income tax and a panel headed by a high court judge.
  • Seeking to assuage concerns of investors, CBDT said GAAR provisions shall be effective from the assessment year 2018-19 onwards and "shall not be invoked merely on the ground that the entity is located in a tax efficient juridiction.
Must Read GAAR-General Anti-Avoidance Rules: Explained With Examples

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Founder of Indian supercomputing Dr Bhatkar appointed new VC Nalanda University

  • Vijay Pandurang Bhatkar, a technocrat who is considered the father of the Indian Supercomputer, has been appointed the new Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University, Rajgir, in Bihar. 
  • He will hold the office for a three-year period from the date of his appointment as per the Nalanda University Act, Sec 11(3). Bhatkar, 70, replaces Gopa Sabharwal who resigned on November 24 last year, followed by the resignation of Chancellor George Yeo, after the dissolution of the Mentor Group which functioned as the governing body of the university.
  • Bhatkar has served as member, Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet at the Centre, and governing board of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. 
  • He has also been honoured with the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, the fourth and third highest civilian honours in India.

Dr G N Rao inducted to Ophthalmology Hall of Fame

  • Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder and Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute, has been selected as one of two inductees for the prestigious 2017 Ophthalmology Hall of Fame instituted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). 
  • He would be honoured at the induction ceremony in Los Angeles on May six at the ASCRS annual meeting, according to an LVPEI statement.
  • The Hall of Fame honours pioneers in ophthalmology for their distinguished careers and contributions, with the physicians selected by their peers - more than 30,000 ophthalmologists across the world
  • The Ophthalmology Hall of Fame inductees are "individuals whose contribution to the field of ophthalmology have shaped the way modern ophthalmology is practiced" and "who have trained thousands of ophthalmologists who practice throughout the world, and developed institutions that will continue ophthalmic research for years to come."

Telangana government signs MoU with French Aero campus Aquitaine

  • The Telangana government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with French Aero campus Aquitaine to set up a world-class aero skills academy in the city in collaboration with academia and industry.
  • This partnership focuses on developing skills among youth as well as experienced professionals in tune with the latest trends in the industry.
  • The new academy will offer specialized aeronautical courses in engineering, manufacturing and maintenance. The MoU was signed by general manager of the Aero Campus Jerome Verschave and secretary ITE&C department of the state government Jayesh Ranjan.

Abul Hossain wins Kolkata Marathon

  • Siliguri lad Abul Hossain won the Kolkata Marathon today as amateur runners from north Bengal and Northeast India dominated the first edition of the meet.
  • Hossain won the race with a timing of two hours 34 minutes and two seconds to leave Kolkata lad Biswanath Pal second, five minutes behind. Paritosh Roy finished third with a timing of two hours, 52 minutes 48 seconds.
  • Sikkim's Mangali Tamang won the women's half marathon with a timing of one hour 31 minutes and 13 seconds.
  • Meghalaya's Kyntimon Marwein and her younger sister Dateibankynmaw finished second and third with a timing of 1:33.04 seconds and 1:35.48 respectively.

Indian Navy launches search to procure 57 carrier-borne fighter jets

  • The Indian Navy has launched a Request for Information to procure 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its carrier. 
  • Last month, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had said the “present LCA does not meet the carrier capability required by the Navy”. He had said the service would continue to support its development but “at the same time we will seek aircraft elsewhere which can operate on the aircraft carrier”.
  • At present, the Navy operates 45 MIG-29K jets, which from time-to-time face serviceability issues. Currently, six planes are compatible for aircraft carrier flying. 
  • They are Rafale (Dassault, France), F-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US), MIG-29K (Russia), F-35B and F-35C (Lockheed Martin, US) and Gripen (Saab, Sweden). While F-18, Rafale and MIG-29K are twin engine jets, the remaining three have single engine.

Desh' to set up India's largest start-up incubator at Hubballi

  • The Deshpande Foundation, the philanthropy arm of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, will launch the country’s largest start-up incubation centre here (earlier Hubli), alongside the new campus of information technology giant Infosys.
  • The foundation aims to promote entrepreneurship in India’s tier-II and tier-III cities. It is investing Rs 30 crore in the centre, to be opened this September and able to seat 1,200 people at any point.
  • While Bengaluru has emerged as the country’s start-up capital, Deshpande believes smaller cities and towns can play a crucial role in creating new companies and jobs. 
  • This led him to invest in setting up the foundation a decade earlier at this city, establishing a ‘sandbox’ location to allow entrepreneurs to test and nurture their ideas into businesses. 

India Post gets payments bank licence to start services

  • India Post has received payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India to start rollout of banking operations commercially under the permit.
  • “India Post has received payments bank licence. The service will be launched as per schedule,” a Department of Posts official said. India Post Payments Bank is the third entity to receive payments bank permit after Bharti Airtel and Paytm.
  • Payments banks can accept deposits up to Rs1 lakh per account from individuals and small businesses.
  • The new model of banking allows mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to banking requirements of individuals and small businesses.
  •  It will be set up as a differentiated bank and will confine its activities to acceptance of demand deposits, remittance services, Internet banking and other specified services.
  • Out of eight companies in fray — Airtel has launched its commercial operation across India with an investment of Rs3,000 crore offering interest rate of 7.25% on deposits, free money transfer from Airtel to Airtel numbers within Airtel Bank, money transfer to any bank account in the country.
  • Paytm, promoted by Vijay Shekhar Sharma and backed by Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba, plans to roll out payments bank within initial investment of about Rs400 crore.
  • Others are — Aditya Birla Nuvo, Fino PayTech, National Securities Depository, Reliance Industries Ltd nd Vodafone m-pesa.
  • AP Singh has been appointed as interim MD and CEO of the India Post Payment Bank. He was joint secretary in the Department of Disinvestment and one of the member of founding team that launched Aadhaar.

Abu Dhabi to set up court for non-Muslims to strengthen culture of tolerance

  • Abu Dhabi will set up a court for non-Muslims to strengthen the culture of tolerance and acceptance of other communities and ensure access to services for all segments of the society
  • Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, has issued a resolution for the setting up of a Personal Status and Inheritance Court for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the UAE's seven emirates.
  • The move is in line with the strategic goals of the AbuDhabi Judicial Department to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the judicial procedures and ensure access to services for all segments of the society, the official WAMnews agency reported.
  • This will also ensure prompt justice and strengthen the culture of tolerance and acceptance of others by creating institutional infrastructure, it added.
  • Chancellor Yousef Saeed Al Ibry, under-secretary of the department, said an integrated action on all the social, educational and institutional levels, is required to spread the culture of tolerance in the judicial domain.
  • He also pointed out that the UAE legislative system practically promotes the culture of tolerance and acceptance of others values at the judiciary level, in harmony with the prevailing norms in the community.

Australian Open 2017: Serena Williams beats Venus Williams to set Grand Slam record

  • Serena Williams beat sister Venus in straight sets to win her seventh Australian Open and an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
  • Serena, 35, won 6-4 6-4 to pass Steffi Graf in the all-time list of major winners since the Grand Slams accepted professional players in 1968.
  • The American regains the number one ranking from German Angelique Kerber.
  • Australia's Margaret Court, with 24, is the only player still ahead of Serena in terms of Grand Slam singles titles.
  • Serena paid tribute to her sister, who was playing her first major final for eight years, saying: "There's no way I would be at 23 without her. There's no way I'd be at one without her. She's my inspiration.
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