Indian Boy Wins Intel International Science Award in US
Prashant Ranganathan has emerged winner in the world’s largest pre-college science competition in the environment engineering category for his work on biodegradation of pesticides. Prashant is among the 20 high schools students from various parts of the country who participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in the US. More than 1700 students across the world had participated in the event. Prashant Ranganathan is a student of Carmel Junior College in Jamshedpur. His project titled ‘Biodegradation of Chlorpyrifos using native bacteria’ is aimed at helping farmers to biodegrade the harmful pesticides. In all, Four Indian-Americans received top awards in various categories. Indian American Pratik Naidu has won an award in the category of computational biology and bioinformatics. Other Indian-American winners include Adam Nayak who has won in earth and environmental sciences, Karthik Yegnesh in mathematics and Rahul Subramaniam in the microbiology category.
Cabinet to soon take a call on FIPB abolition
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said that the Union Cabinet will soon take a call on the winding up of 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The minister said this in a media briefing in New Delhi on initiatives and achievements of the ministry in the last three years. On development of the North Eastern states, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman said that her ministry is working on a new policy for the industrial development of the region. The North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy – 2007 has ended this year. She added that the ministry is holding consultations with those states to understand their industrial priorities with an aim to firm up something which can help in promotion of industry and employment generation there.
Defence Acquisition Council finalises broad outline of policy to engage private sector in manufacturing of hi-tech equipment
Defence Acquisition Council, under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, today finalised broad contours of policy to engage the country’s private sector in manufacturing of high tech defence equipment in India. The policy outline aims at developing defence industrial eco-system in the country through the involvement of major Indian corporates as well as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. It envisages the establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with qualified Indian industry majors through a transparent and competitive process. The policy will give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ policy in the Defence sector and help Indian industry. Initially the policy is expected to be implemented in a few selected segments. These are fighter aircraft, submarines and armoured vehicles.
Hassan Rouhani Wins Iran’s Presidential Election
Hassan Rouhani has been re-elected as the President of Iran. He was elected as president for his first term in 2013. He won 2013 elections by pledging to end Iran’s isolation and improve civil rights at home. Rouhani was born in Semnan province on November 12, 1948. He is a graduate of University of Tehran and did his PhD from Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University. The 68 year old Rouhani is a lawyer, academic and a former diplomat. Rouhani has won his second term by presenting himself as the candidate of change and social freedoms that ended many sanctions and a 13 year standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme. He has held various key positions like the key defence portfolios during the 1980 -88 Iran-Iraq war. He had spent 16 years as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, which is Iran’s top security post. Rouhani consistently worked to rebuild Irans’ relations with the West. He also became the first Iranian leader to speak with the President of United States when Barack Obama phoned in September 2013.
US President and Saudi Arabia King sign defence deals
US President Donald Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia have signed today 110 billion dollar defense deals to support the long term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of the Iranian influence and Iran related threats. A White House statement said that this package demonstrates the commitment of the United States to Saudi Arabia while bolstering the Kingdom’s ability to provide for its own security and continue contributing to counter terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on U.S. military forces. The Press Statement also said that the President’s meetings underscored the deep and longstanding commitment of the United States to the security, stability, and prosperity of Saudi Arabia and demonstrated the President’s confidence in the future of USSaudi relations. He also emphasized the importance of working jointly to address challenges to regional peace and security, including defeating ISIS and al-Qa’eda, countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, and resolving conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
GST Council Finalises 4-slab Service Tax Structure
The GST Council headed by finance Minister Arun Jaitley has finalised a 4-slab service tax structure at the rates of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent as against the single rate of 15% levied on all taxable services. GST regime is scheduled to be implemented from July 1. In the next GST Council meeting, tax rates on gold and other precious metals will be taken up for discussion.
Salient Highlights: Luxury hotels, gambling, race club betting and cinema services will attract a tax rate of 28%. Education, healthcare and non-AC rail travel will remain exempted from the GST tax regime. However, the states will be given the option to levy additional taxes on cinema to compensate for the revenue losses entailed due to merging of entertainment tax with GST. At present, the total tax incidence on cinema including entertainment and service tax is in the range of 55%. The states need to use the legislative route if it wants to levy additional tax on cinema. States will also be permitted to levy any new tax as the taxation powers of the states have only been restricted and not abolished after the rollout of GST. Telecom and financial services will be taxed at a rate of 18%. Transport services will be taxed at the rate of 5%. Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber will have to pay 5% under GST in place of 6%. AC rail travel will attract 5% tax. Economy class air travel will attract 5 % GST while business class will attract 12%. Travelling on metro, local train and religious travel such as Haj Yatra would be exempted from GST. The e-commerce players like Flipkart and Snapdeal would be required to shell out 1% Tax Collected at Source (TCS). Non-AC restaurants and AC restaurants will attract a GST of 12% and 18% respectively. Advertisements published in newspapers will attract 5% GST. At present it is exempt from service tax.
Climate Change: Antarctica is Turning Green
According to a new study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK, plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change. The scientists have observed a sharp increase in biological activity in Antarctica in the last 50 years. For ascertaining the growth, the scientists conducted tests at five cores from three sites and has observed the occurrence of major biological changes across the Antarctic Peninsula. The scientists made use of 150 years’ worth of data to arrive at the conclusion. The study has been published in the journal Current Biology. According to the scientists, Antarctica will be much greener in the future and the continent’s plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming. The continuous retreat of glaciers will make Antarctica much greener in the future. As per the study, the growth of moss in the continent is a signifier that the region is already undergoing change. At present, the plant life exists only in 0.3% of Antarctica. With increase in land cover occurs decrease in snow and ice cover. The thinner ice cover permits the penetration of sunlight into the previously dark areas allowing the planktons to grow. This would bring ecosystem shift to Antarctica similar to what has happened in Arctic.
World Cup Archery: Indian Men’s Team Wins Compound Gold
The Indian Men’s compound archery team has managed to win gold after defeating Columbia 226- 221 in the archery World Cup stage 1 championships held in Shanghai, China. Indian archery team were represented by Abhishek Verma, Chinna Raju Srither and Amanjeet Singh. The Colombian team comprised Camilo Andres Cardona, Jose Carlos Ospina and Daniel Munoz. India beat USA in the semifinal and edged out Iran in the quarterfinals. The team also defeated Vietnam in the first round. The women’s team, however, failed to shine in the event. In the Women’s event, South Korea, Denmark and Russia emerged as winners in that order.