Prepared by D.Sarala, Viluppuram
1. The Union Finance Ministry has given permission to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to conduct field trials of plastic (polymer-based) currency notes of Rs 10 denominations. It was announced by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. These notes will be first introduced in five cities (not yet declared) across the country with diverse geographical and climatic conditions.
2. The World Bank has approved $175 million for India’s ambitious National Hydrology Project to improve its ability to forecast floods and reduce vulnerability to recurring floods and droughts. The loan has been issued from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) with maturity of 23 years. It also has a six-year grace period in which no interest payments will be due.It is expected to take forward the success of the Hydrology Project-I and Hydrology Project-II by covering the entire country, including the states along the Ganga and Brahmaputra-Barak basins. Earlier Project-I and Project-II were limited only to large river systems viz. Krishna and Satluj-Beas. They had established real-time flood forecast systems to give reservoir managers an accurate picture of the water situation in their region.
3. India and Russia have signed two long-term support agreements for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft fleet, covering around 57,000 spares and components related to the aircraft. The agreements were signed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference held in New Delhi.
4. GST Council meeting presided by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has approved draft Bills for implementing the goods and services tax (GST) in States and Union Territories (UTs). It was the 12th meeting of the GST Council. The Council already has approved three other GST Bills pertaining to central GST, integrated GST and the compensation to be paid to States for loss of revenue. The approval of these bills paves the way for the Centre and the States to pilot GST, the new indirect tax system, proposed to be introduced from July 1, 2017 through Parliament and the state assemblies.
5. The Union Labour Ministry has proposed a labour code which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers. In this regard, it has proposed a draft code on Social Security and Welfare with an aim to provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country of about 45 crore workers. It proposes, National Social Security Council (NSSC), chaired by the Prime Minister to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries.
6. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have signed an agreement to work together. They will work together on crop improvement and agronomy programmes for grain legumes and dry land cereals. It will benefit small farmers in India and globally. ICRISAT is a non-profit agricultural research organization headquartered in Patancheru in Hyderabad, Telangana. ICAR is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India.
7. The Union Government has announced that total of 29 lakh debit cards were subjected to malware attack in through ATMs that were connected with the switch of Hitachi. It was announced by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. The reply mentioned that the malware-induced security breach between May and July 2016 had compromised only 3,291 cards as reported by banks to the RBI. Malware is short form of malicious software. It is any software used to disrupt computer or mobile operations, gain access to private computer systems, gather sensitive information, or display unwanted advertising. Before the term malware was coined by Yisrael Radai in 1990, malware was referred to as computer viruses.
8. India and Brazil have finalised text of the Social Security Agreement (SSA). It will come in force by early 2018 after it is ratified. It will be the first such agreement between the BRICS countries. This SSA takes forward the spirit of Goa Declaration adopted at 8th BRICS Summit, outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers held in June 2016 in Geneva and September 2016 in New Delhi. So far, India has signed and operationalised Social Security Agreements (SSAs) with 18 countries. They are Australia, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and South Korea.
9. India’s contribution to the United Nations has rose by 55% to Rs 244 crore in 2015-16 compared with the previous fiscal. In 2014-15, India had contributed Rs 157 crore. It was announced by Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha. In the same period, India also made voluntary contributions to tune of Rs 22 crore to international organisations, including UN agencies. For the period 2016-18, India’s Scale of Assessment for the UN’s Regular and Peacekeeping budgets has been fixed at 0.737% and 0.1474%, respectively.