Current Affairs: 12 June 2017

National Events

GST Council lowers tax rate for 66 items

  • Tax rates for as many as 66 items including kitchen staples like pickles and mustard sauce under the ensuing GST regime have been cut to meet demands from various quarters as the country prepares for rollout of one- nation-one-tax regime in less than three weeks.
  • Within weeks of the all-powerful GST Council fitting over 1,200 items into one of the 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent tax slabs, there were complaints from various quarters about high tax incidence on various goods and services.
  • The Council also increased the threshold of turnover for businesses which can opt for composition scheme to Rs 75 lakh, from Rs 50 lakh proposed earlier.
  • Now traders, manufacturers and restaurant owners with turnover below Rs 75 lakh can opt for the composition scheme and pay taxes at 1, 2, and 5 percent rates respectively.
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Kolkata to get India's first underwater Metro

  • Kolkata will soon have an underwater Metro which will pass through tunnels several feet under the Hooghly. 
  • The first underwater transportation tunnel of India is ready with the second one nearing completion.
  • The Kolkata Metro transportation tunnel is unique to India because never before in the history of the country has a tunnel been made under a flowing river.
  • The tunnel has been constructed 30 metres below riverbed, just a few metres away from the famous Howrah Bridge, built in the last century to connect Howrah and Kolkata.

International Events

India drags US to WTO over duties on steel

  • India has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the US has failed to drop anti-subsidy duties on certain Indian steel products after losing an earlier ruling,
  • India said the US had failed to meet an April 2016 deadline to comply with a WTO ruling that faulted it for imposing countervailing duties on hotrolled carbon steel flat products from India.
  • The non-compliance complaint, effectively a new trade dispute, could lead to India asking to impose trade sanctions if the US is found not to have complied.
  • India brought the original complaint to WTO in April 2012, after the US commerce department set an import duty of nearly 286% on a circular welded carbon-quality steel pipe from India to offset government subsidies.
  • The US commerce department did this after a petition from Allied Tube and Conduit, JMC Steel Group, Wheatland Tube and United States Steel Corp.
  • In the extremely complex case, India argued that the price of the steel pipe was set by the market, but the US said the iron ore used to make it came from a state-run mining company, NMDC Ltd, effectively subsidizing Indian exporters.
  • India’s complaint alleging US non-compliance listed 14 areas where it said the US was in breach of the international trade rules.

22nd edition of European Union Film Festival begins

  • The 22nd European Union Film Festival (EUFF) premiered at Siri Fort auditorium with the screening of Estonian film Cherry Tobacco. 
  • The five-day event is being organised by the Delegation of the EU and Embassies of EU Members in collaboration with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Award winning movies from countries like Austria, Cyprus, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Finland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Spain , Greece, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia among others, will be shown during the festival.

EU, France grant 3.5m euros to curb emissions in India

  • Aiming to reduce emissions and promote sustainability to help India’s smart city programme, France and the European Union on Friday extended a grant of 3.5 million euros under the ‘Moblise Your City’ (MYC) initiative.
  • Three Indian cities -- Nagpur, Kochi and Ahmedabad -- will get the grant as part of the EU’s commitment under the Paris Climate agreement, French Development Agency (AFD) officials said.
  • More funds would be provided to India as loan to take forward the smart city and sustainable transport initiatives in the three cities on pilot basis.
  • AFD has been associated with several projects in India and conservation of biodiversity, and is currently also funding the Vijayawada, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kochi and Nagpur metro rail projects.

Sports

Dhanya-Sanmay win U-14 Asian junior tennis title

  • Dhanya Shah and Sanmay Gandhi clinched the Under-14 doubles title of the Asian Junior Tennis Championships at the Balewadi Stadium.
  • Second seeded Dhanya and Sanmay defeated Vishesh Patel and Shashidhar Kota 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final.

IOC approves new events for Tokyo Olympics

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved new events for the 2020 Tokyo Games, including a number of mixed-gender competitions
  • The additions include a mixed team event for judo. Each team will consist of 3 men and 3 women, all representing different weight classes. 
  • Table Tennis will also get a mixed doubles competition.
  • Three-on-three basketball is an example of the IOC’s focus on youth and urban sports. The 10-minute match on a half-sized court is known for its speed.

Rafael Nadal wins historic 10th French Open title

  • Nadal, 31 years old, dominated 32-year-old Stan Wawrinka to win the French Open for the first time since 2014. 
  • He’s the first player—man or woman—in tennis’s Open era to win the same major title 10 times.
  • The 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory means Nadal lost a mere 35 games in the entire tournament, the least in all his years playing at Roland Garros. 
  • Nadal now has 15 Grand Slam titles in his career, trailing only Roger Federer, who has 18.
  • The victory lifts Nadal’s tennis ranking back up to No. 2 in the world. Wawrinka will be ranked third. Novak Djokovic, who has struggled since winning the French Open last year, will fall down to No. 4 in the rankings, his lowest since 2009.

Kutwal wins gold at world chess championship for differently-abled

  • Shashikant Kutwal, a railway employee with Pune Division, has won the gold medal at the 17th World Individual Chess Championship for differently-abled, held in Slovakia 
  • Kutwal, who hails from a village in Baramati tehsil, was appointed with the Central Railway through sports quota in 2000. 
  • Since then, he has been representing Central Railway, Indian Railways and India at various chess competitions

Ramkumar Ramanathan wins ITF Futures title in Singapore

  • Indian player Ramkumar Ramanathan lifted the $15,000 ITF men's Futures tennis title after outplaying Raymond Sarmiento of the USA in straight sets.
  • The top seeded Indian hardly broke a sweat on his way to a 6-2, 6-2 win over the second seeded player from USA in the final of event last night.
  • It was the first title of the season for Ramkumar and 15th of his career.

Banking & Finance

IOB launches retail mart in Thiruvananthapuram

  • Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), the Lead Bank for Thiruvananthapuram district, has launched the Retail Mart, a retail lending concept, in Kerala's capital city.
  • The exclusive facility that handles retail products has started functioning at the main branch of the bank at Statue Junction in Thiruvananthapuram.
  • The Retail Mart has been designed with an aim to complete all the pre-release formailities at the customer’s door step and sanction quality retail loans at a competitive rate of interest with a minimum turnaround time.
  • The bank has identified Thiruvananthapuram city as an area with potential business opportunity.
  • It is planning to disburse an additional Rs 100 crore in retail loans during the current financial year, he added.

Awards & Honours

Authors Neelakantan, Satpathy to be honoured with Kalinga Awards

  • Popular writer Anand Neelakantan, Odia poet Haraprasad Das and author Paramita Satpathy were announced winners of the Kalinga Literary Awards.
  • The Kalinga International Literary Award, Kalinga Literary Youth Award and Kalinga Karubaki Award will be conferred upon Neelakantan, Das and Satpathy respectively.
  • The theme of this year's award ceremony is ‘Literature for Peace and Harmony’.

Appointments

Paytm names vice-president Amit Sinha as COO of Paytm Mall

  • Amit Sinha, a vice-president overlooking business and human resources at One97 Communications Ltd, the company behind the Paytm app, has been appointed as the chief operating officer (COO) of its e-commerce business Paytm Mall,
  • Sinha has been associated with Paytm since December 2007 and has served in several key business roles. At Paytm Mall, he will be responsible for overall operations, hiring, category management and logistics.
  • Last year, Paytm de-merged its three-year old e-commerce business into a separate unit—Paytm Mall, under the legal entity Paytm E-Commerce Pvt Ltd. The company launched a dedicated online portal and mobile app for Paytm Mall on 27 February.

Books & Authors

Jairam Ramesh’s book on the naturist in Indira Gandhi launched

  • The book “Indira Gandhi – A life in Nature”, was launched by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the Indira Gandhi Memorial
  • Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, who has authored the book published by Simon & Schuster, presented the first copy of the book to the Congress President, besides to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former minister Karan Singh and Priyanka Gandhi.
  • The book brings out some of the unpublished works sourced through archives and personal sources material that highlighted the unexplored aspect of Indira Gandhi’s life — her love for nature. 
  • The book showcases how Indira Gandhi led India to the path of conservation and made it a priority of economic development.

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