Current Affairs: Daily GK Update 1st July 2017

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i. Just a couple of hours before the Goods and Services Tax (GST) roll out, the all-powerful GST Council has reduced the tax rate on fertiliser to 5 percent from previously decided 12 per cent. 

ii. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the GST Council comprising representatives of states, states the decision to reduce the tax rate on fertiliser was taken because of apprehensions that price of the crop nutrient may go up. The GST Council, in another move to give relief to farmers, also cut the tax rate on exclusive parts of tractors from 28 per cent to 18 per cent. 

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • The much-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out from 01st July 2017.
  • The GST, which unifies more than a dozen central and state levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT.

i. The government has lowered interest rate on small saving schemes by 0.1 percent for the July- September quarter. The move will prompt banks to lower deposit rates. The rates of small saving schemes like PPF, Kisan Vikas Patra and Sukanya Samriddhi have been lowered across the board compared to the April-June quarter. 

ii. Since April last year, interest rates of all small saving schemes have been recalibrated on a quarterly basis. According to finance ministry notification, investments in the public provident fund (PPF) scheme will fetch lower annual rate of 7.8 percent. Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investments will yield 7.5 per cent and mature in 115 months.

iii. The one for girl child savings, Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme, will offer 8.3 percent annually, from 8.4 per cent at present. The investment on 5-year Senior Citizens Savings Scheme will yield 8.3 per cent.

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • KVP can be purchased from any Departmental Post Office.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Account can be opened up to age of 10 years only from the date of birth.
  • Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investments mature in 115 months.
i. India has contributed $500,000 to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, expressing hope that more funding by nations will boost efforts by the world body to build and sustain peace. India has been a member of the Peacebuilding Commission since its inception in December 2005 and has so far contributed $5 million to the Peacebuilding Fund. The fresh contribution of $500,000 to the fund will be affected over the coming days. 

ii. The fund was launched to support activities, actions, programmes and organisations that seek to build a lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict. 

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in conflict-affected countries and is a key addition to the capacity of the International Community in the broad peace agenda.
  • Antonio Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York City, USA.

i. US President Donald Trump has nominated Krishna R. Urs to be the ambassador to Peru, the White House announced. The appointment of Urs, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, would have to be approved by the Senate. 

ii. He is currently Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Madrid. Urs took over after James Costos, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, resigned. Urs, a 30-year veteran of the foreign service was earlier the Deputy Chief of Mission in Spain.

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • Lima is the capital of Peru.
  • Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is present president of Peru.

i. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd has entered into a technology collaboration agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI) of Japan for manufacturing of stainless steel coaches and bogies for metros. The agreement covers establishing design, engineering and manufacturing facilities at BHEL using Japanese technology. It will also entitle BHEL for all technological advances and upgrades. 

ii. BHEL supplies electric as well as diesel locomotives, EMUs, and propulsion systems for Indian Railways. Kawasaki Heavy Industries manufactures heavy equipment/products and its Rolling Stock Company has supplied EMU (Metro/Commuter) train sets to various countries like US, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc., besides Japan. 

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • BHEL has been the bedrock of India's Heavy Electrical Equipment industry since its incorporation in 1964.
  • BHEL Head Office is in New Delhi.
  • Mr Atul Sobti is Chairman and Managing Director of BHEL.

i. Election Commission (EC) has launched the nation wide month long special drive from 01st July 2017 for maximisation of registration of eligible electors with the focus on left out eligible young citizens in the age group of 18-19. During the drive, the EC will remove names of registered dead electors, if any, from electoral rolls. 

ii. During the month of June, the election officials have completed preparatory work like identification of critical gaps in existing electoral rolls, strengthening of infrastructure and sensitization of ground level electoral machine. The EC has also sent the communication to all recognised political parties seeking their cooperation for the success of the Special Drive.

iii. During the Special Enrollment Drive, which will be completed by 31st July, special attention would be given receiving Form 6 for enrolment of new electors and Removal of names of registered dead electors, if found any.

Important Takeaways from above News-
  • Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. 
  • The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.
  • It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. 
  • Dr Nasim Zaidi is 20th Chief Election Commissioner of India.

i. The growth of eight core sectors slowed to 3.6 per cent in May due to fall in output of coal and fertilisers. The growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors— coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity — was 5.2 percent in May last year. Coal and fertiliser productions recorded negative growth of 3.3 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, as per the government data released.

ii. Steel sector growth dipped to 3.7 per cent last month as against 13.4 percent in May 2016. Slow growth in key sectors would also have implications on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) number as these segments account for about 41 percent to the total factory output. However, growth in refinery products and electricity output grew by 5.4 per cent and 6.4 per cent in May as against 3.3 per cent and 6.2 per cent, respectively in the same period last year. Natural gas production too grew by 4.5 percent in May as against a negative growth rate of 6.5 percent a year earlier. In April, these eight sectors had recorded a growth rate of 2.8 percent.

i. Two Indian-Americans, Adobe Chief Shantanu Narayen and former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy are among 38 immigrants to be honoured this year for their role in helping advance the country's society, culture and economy. 

ii. Narayen and Murthy will be honoured with the prestigious 'Great Immigrants' annual award on US's Independence day on 04th July 2017. Murthy, born in the UK and a Harvard and Yale alumnus, was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, becoming the first-ever Indian-American to occupy the post and also the youngest ever surgeon general of the country. Narayen, a native of Hyderabad has an undergraduate degree in electronics engineering, a master's degree in computer science, and an MBA from UC Berkeley.

PIB launches web page on GST
i. The government's information dispensation arm, Press Information Bureau has launched a special page for the Goods and Services Tax. The page on the PIB website was launched by Principal Director-General, Press Information Bureau, A. P. Frank Noronha.

ii. The web page on GST is a one-stop platform for all information on the new tax regime. It contains press releases issued till date on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in both Hindi and English. The web page also contains various presentations and FAQs on GST.

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