♠The Hindu Review♠
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♦ GDP growth slows again in third quarter
- GDP growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter in the October-December 2018 period, according to data released on Thursday. Growth fell to 6.6% in the third quarter, the lowest in the last six quarters.
- The slowdown was led by agriculture, which is estimated to grow at 2.7%, against the earlier estimate of 3.8%.
- Data showed that the GDP growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter in the quarter ended December 2018 to 6.6% — a six-quarter low — from 7% in the second quarter and 8% in the first quarter of this financial year.
- The slowdown in 2018-19 is due to a lowering in the growth estimate of the agriculture sector to 2.7% as per the latest data compared with the 3.8% estimated earlier. The manufacturing sector, too, is estimated to grow at a marginally lower 8.1% compared with the previously predicted 8.3%.
- “FY19 GDP growth in second advance estimate of national income is lowered to 7% from 7.2% in first advance estimate,” Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist, India Ratings and Research, said.
♦ PM Modi to launch various development projects in Tamil Nadu
- He will also launch a Road Safety Park and Transport Museum. Prime Minister Modi will dedicate to the nation the two and four laning of the Madurai-Ramnathpuram section of NH-87.
- The Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone for four-laning of Madurai-Chettikulam-Natham section of NH-785. These projects will benefit the local populace by way of reduced pollution, fast and safe journey, reduced travel time and fuel saving.
♦ Sushma Swaraj to address OIC Foreign Ministers plenary session in Abu Dhabi
- Swaraj will attend the inaugural plenary of the two-day meeting on Friday. It is for the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour.
- India’s engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension between India and Pakistan.
- “EAM @SushmaSwaraj arrives in #AbuDhabi for the Ministerial Meeting of @OIC_OCI. India has been invited by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of UAE as the ‘Guest of Honour’,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
♦ US offers USD 1 million reward to find Osama bin Laden’s son
- The United States on Thursday offered a USD 1 million reward for information on a son of late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, seeing him as an emerging face of extremism.
- The location of Hamza bin Laden, sometimes dubbed the “crown prince of jihad,” has been the subject of speculation for years with reports of him living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria or under house arrest in Iran.
- “Hamza bin Laden is the son of deceased former AQ leader Osama bin Laden and is emerging as a leader in the AQ franchise,” a State Department statement said, referring to Al-Qaeda.
- The State Department said that it would offer USD 1 million for information leading to his location in any country.
- Bin Laden, who according to the United States is around 30, has threatened attacks against the United States to avenge the 2011 killing of his father, who was living in hiding in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, by U.S. special forces.
♦ Bancassurance Agreement signed by IDBI Bank and LIC
- IDBI Bank and Life Insurance Corporation of India have signed a bancassurance agreement under which the lender will offer LIC’s insurance products at its branches.
- “IDBI Bank as a corporate agent of LIC would get a window to provide LIC’s entire gamut of insurance offerings to the bank’s 1.80-crore customer base spread over 1,800 branches across the country,” the bank said in a statement on Wednesday.
♦ Sakshi stuns world champion Olli to enter Dan Kolov wrestling final
- Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik stunned reigning world champion Petra Olli of Finland to enter the finals of the female 65g category freestyle at the Dan Kolov 2019 wrestling meet in Ruse, Bulgaria on Thursday.
- According to information received, the Sakshi Malik defeated Olli 4-1 in the semi-finals. Sakshi will next meet Henna Johansson of Sweden in the gold-medal clash on Friday. Sakshi has won a bronze medal in the 58kg category at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♠
- TWINGE (NOUN):sharp pain🙁टीस)
Synonyms: ache, pang
Antonyms: advantage, blessing
Example: I was feeling twinge in my heels.
- TAWDRY (ADJECTIVE): tacky🙁घटिया)
Synonyms: cheap, sleazy
Antonyms: nice, tasteful
Example: His house was in a tawdry location.
- DIRE (ADJECTIVE): urgent🙁डरावना)
Synonyms: drastic, extreme
Antonyms: calm, mild
Example: The dire need is there to save water.
- SAVVY (ADJECTIVE):calculating: (जानकार)
Synonyms: cunning, impeachable
Antonyms: blameless, innocent
Example: Why are you being so savvy?
- FUGITIVE (ADJECTIVE):person escaping law: (भगोड़ा)
Synonyms: escapee, outlaw
Antonyms: enduring, confronting
Example: The fugitive don rarely left his cabin to avoid any social contact.
- CAUCUS (NOUN):group gathered to make decisions: (दल)
Synonyms: gathering, convention
Antonym: individual, one
Example: The legislative caucus had a long discussion over the new bill.
- CHASM (NOUN): gap: (गहरी खाई)
Synonyms: crater, rift
Antonyms: closure, juncture
Example: The chasm between the rich and poor has grown wider over the last decade.
- TIRADE (NOUN):abuse: (आक्षेप)
Synonyms: ranting, denunciation
Antonyms: praise, complement
Example: The employee launched a tirade when fired from his job.
Close Test Based on The Hindu Editorial
Pre-poll gambit: on reduction of GST on under-construction properties
On Sunday, the Goods and Services Tax Council recommended a dramatic reduction in the headline indirect tax rates payable on under-construction properties. The GST rate payable on ……..(1)……. homes, with effect from April 2019, will come down from 8% to 1%, and all other residential properties outside the affordable segment will attract 5% GST instead of the 12% levied at present. The new rate on affordable homes, defined as units that cost less than ₹45 lakh and have a carpet area of 60 square metres in metro cities and 90 square metres in non-metros, is far lower than the 3% rate ………(2)……. by a ministerial panel. The Council needs to meet again in March to clear the transition rules for the proposed rate cuts, and the conditions to be stipulated for housing projects to be ………..(3)……… for the new rates. Days ahead of the expected announcement of the Lok Sabha poll dates by the Election Commission, the government is clearly keen on reaching out to different sections of voters. It has argued that the move will help meet the aspirations of millions of home-buyers, and revive the fortunes of real estate developers. Among the country’s largest employers in recent years, the realty sector has been marred by the debt overdose that has plagued much of corporate India; this has been compounded by high unsold inventory that hit cash flows. Properties that were already complete at the time of the GST’s adoption were spared the tax. But the introduction of 12% and 8% GST for under-construction premier housing units and affordable homes, respectively, had come as a dampener for fresh bookings.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reckons that revenues will not be hit by the rate cut. The implicit assumption is that higher sales volumes will compensate the exchequer. Experts expect a 4-5% reduction in home prices, but the decision to deny input tax credits to builders could bring a twist in the tale. Developers may be forced to raise base prices as critical inputs, particularly cement (taxed at 28%), entail high levies that can no longer be offset. Buyers may still prefer to opt for unsold completed properties that don’t attract GST, instead of incomplete projects. Compliance as well as material costs could go up too, as the Council is likely to ………(4)……… that around 80% of a project’s inputs must come from formal sector vendors in the GST net. It is difficult to determine to what extent a proposed tax exemption on development rights will offset these costs for developers. Whatever the outcome of this pre-election ploy, the frequent structural tinkering ahead of electoral battles has emerged as the biggest challenge to the stabilisation of India’s fledgling GST regime.
D) Any how
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