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♦ Rajapaksa not PM till he clears floor test’
Changes are undemocratic: Sri Lanka Speaker Jayasuriya
- In his first public confrontation yet with President Maithripala Sirisena since the dramatic events of October 26, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Monday indicated that he would not accept former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister until his majority is proven in parliament.
- Citing the opinion of a majority of lawmakers that the recent changes were “undemocratic” and “inconsistent with the traditions of Parliament”, the Speaker said in a media statement: “I wish to emphasise that I am compelled to accept the status that existed previously until such time that they and the new political alliance prove their majority in Parliament.”
♦ Andhra Pradesh government to set up Kadapa steel plant on its own
- In a significant move related to the proposed integrated steel plant in Kadapa district, the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has resolved to set it up as a government-owned entity with private participation and to form a special purpose vehicle called Rayalaseema Steel Corporation (RSC).
- This is in response to the Central government dragging its feet on fulfilling the assurance to set up the steel plant in accordance with A.P. Reorganization Act, 2014 (APRA).
- Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (Vizag Steel Plant) former CMD P. Madhusudhan has been appointed managing director of the SPV which will have an initial corpus of ₹.2 crore and the total project cost has been estimated to be ₹.12,000 crore.
- A.P. Mineral Development Corporation Limited has been mandated to extend financial assistance for it.
- It may be noted that there has been a spat between the Ministry of Steel (MoS) and the A.P. Government over the availability of iron ore, its quality and other issues thereof. The technical aspects were being examined by MECON Limited, an undertaking of the MoS.
- The Cabinet has also decided to develop Visakhapatnam metro rail in a public-private partnership and to provide for it ₹.8300 crore.
♦ Yogi Adityanath renames Faizabad district to Ayodhya
- Close on the heels of renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on November 6 announced that Faizabad district will henceforth be known as Ayodhya.
- “Ayodhya is a symbol of our aan, baan aur shaan (honour, pride and prestige),” he said in the pilgrim town. “Nobody can do injustice to Ayodhya,” he said, adding that the holy city is identified with Lord Ram.
- Mr. Adityanath was speaking on the occasion of Deepotsav on Diwali eve.
- He also announced setting up of a medical college in the name of King Dashrath, father of Lord Ram, in the district.
♦ Ekana stadium adds a new chapter to Lucknow
- Ekana Cricket Stadium, the newest cricketing destination in the Uttar Pradesh capital, wore a festive look on the eve of it becoming the 52nd venue in the country to host an international match.
- In the cricket community, the general feeling is positive about the magnificent stadium, which carries elements of the city’s Mughal architecture on the outside and boasts of a state-of-the-art sporting venue inside.
- “Young players will benefit from the facilities. It is a fantastic stadium which puts Lucknow on the international cricket map. I played Ranji Trophy in UP at some very poor venues.
- “It feels nice that Uttar Pradesh has a modern cricket stadium. Cricket in the State will improve once they use this infrastructure. Camps and competitions will help the game grow. Green Park (in Kanpur) has history but Ekana Stadium marks the improvisation for players and spectators,” said Rajinder Singh Hans, who played for and coached Uttar Pradesh in the past.
- For aficionados of the game, it’s time to rejoice. “Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state and we need such world class stadiums to cater to our cricket loving public.
- “There is no comparison between facilities during the last international match (a Test between India and Sri Lanka) at the K.D. Singh Babu Stadium in 1994 and that of the Ekana Stadium now. It’s a matter of pride for every one in Lucknow,” said A.A. Khan, a cricket fan and an official of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association.
- The new chapter added to the game’s history in Lucknow promises to bring more top level cricket to the city of kebabs.
♦ NASA’s Hubble spots cosmic smiley among colourful galaxies
- The Hubble Space telescope has spotted a formation of galaxies that resembles a smiling face in the sky. The image, taken with the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), shows a patch of space filled with galaxies of all shapes, colours and sizes, many of which belong to the galaxy cluster SDSS J0952+3434.
- Just below centre is a formation of galaxies akin to a smiling face. Two yellow-hued blobs hang atop a sweeping arc of light, NASA said in a statement.
- The lower, arc-shaped galaxy has the characteristic shape of a galaxy that has been gravitationally lensed — its light has passed near a massive object en route to us, causing it to become distorted and stretched out of shape.
- Hubble captured the image in an effort to understand how new stars spring to life throughout the cosmos. WFC3 is able to view distant galaxies at an unprecedented resolution — high enough to locate and study regions of star formation within them.
- Stars are born within giant clouds of gas. These massive clouds, or stellar nurseries, grow unstable and begin to collapse under gravity, becoming the seeds that will grow into new stars. By analysing the luminosity, size and formation rate of different stellar nurseries, scientists hope to learn more about the processes that can lead to the formation of a newborn star.
♦ Bhubaneswar to have over 500 WiFi hot spots with 1800 access points
- Bhubaneswar, the number one Smart City, has jumped the bandwagon of modern cities with Wi-Fi connectivity.
- Through a project titled ‘Bhubaneswar Me WiFi’, the special purpose vehicle- Bhubaneswar Smart City Ltd (BSCL) aims to make the city accessible at key places. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today launched the project which will take off initially with 100 hotspots powered by 275 access points. Eventually, the city will have 518 hotspots with 1800 access points.
- While one Wi-Fi hotspot would be able to handle as many as 150 users at a given point of time, the internet speed will be available at two megabytes per second (MBPS). Access to 250 MB of data will be free for any user on a given day.
- “Today is a historic day for Bhubaneswar. The city of temples will have an IT backbone comparable to the best modern cities in the world. Bhubaneswar dot Me WiFi project will be a game changer for our youth to realize the heights of knowledge economy. Bhubaneswar will stamp its entry as a global smart city with 500 hotspots spanning entire city under this project,” said Patnaik.
- “As part of my commitment for 3Ts- Technology, Transparency and Teamwork, in coming days, we will have similar free Wi-Fi facilities in all our corporations- Cuttack, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Rourkela and our JagannathDhaam-Puri,” he added.
- The City Wi-Fi project is part of the smart solutions of BSCL and also of the Master System Integrator (MSI). The project is executed by Honeywell, a company with IT expertise.
- MSI will also include the Bhubaneswar Operations Centre, Intelligent Traffic Signal and Control System and Common Payment Card System so that all the IT-based systems and infrastructure across the Smart City would function in sync.
♦ Manipur govt inks MoU to implement smart city project
- Manipur Government Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IL&FS Township and Urban Assets Limited and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Pvt. Ltd. as a project management consultant for implementation of smart city project in Imphal at Chief Minister’s Secretariat. The company will design, develop, manage and implement smart city projects under Smart City Mission in Imphal which is expected to be completed within three years.
- The MoU was inked in the presence of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, health and family welfare minister L. Jayantakumar, Chief Secretary Dr. J. Suresh Babu and Secretary (Revenue) T. Ranjit. The state government was represented by municipal administration, housing and urban development (MAHUD) department director Th. Harikumar and the private company by its Head-Urban Project (East and North-East) Chandana Roychowdhury.
- Singh said that it has always been a dream of every people to have a Smart City in the State. The project management consultant which was selected through a transparent e-tender had assured to take around six months to prepare a Detail Project Report (DPR) of the project which is worth around Rs. 1523 crore, he said.
- The government, however, had requested the company to complete the DPR a bit earlier citing the fact that Manipur has long been neglected, said N. Biren Singh. Asserting that the signing of the MoU would pave way for opening a new chapter in urban development in the state, Singh said that the project would include key infrastructure developments like sewerage system, Nambul and Imphal river rejuvenation, development of Kangla, transport service, pollution control and other beautification activities etc.
♦ IFFI 2018 to showcase 212 films
- The 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), to be held in Goa from November 20-28, will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries, reflecting diversity. Israel will be the country of focus at the gala, where there will be a retrospective section of Ingmar Bergman, marking 100 years of the filmmaker’s birth.
- The International Competition section of IFFI this year has 15 films, out of which 3 are Indian. The competition section represents films produced and co-produced by 22 countries, according to a PIB statement.
- The Festival Kaleidoscope section carries 20 critically acclaimed international films that have been to major film festivals and majority of them being multiple award winners, while the World Panorama segment has 67 films which are specially curated for the festival. This includes 4 World Premieres, 2 International Premieres, 15 Asia Premieres and 60 India Premieres.
♦ Ram Mohan Roy award for N. Ram
- Veteran journalist and The Hindu Publishing Group Chairman N. Ram has been chosen for the prestigious Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award, presented by the Press Council of India (PCI), for his outstanding contribution towards journalism, the Council announced on Monday.
- In a statement, the PCI also announced National Awards for Excellence in Journalism for 2018. Ruby Sarkar, chief correspondent of Deshbandhu , Bhopal, and Rajesh Parshuram Joshte of Daily Pudhari , Ratnagiri, have been named joint winners for ‘Rural Journalism’.
- No entry qualified in the newly introduced category of ‘Sports Reporting’.
In the net: on direct tax base
The steps taken by the Union government over the last few years to widen its tax base may finally be yielding some rewards. The total number of tax returns filed in the country increased by over 80% over the last four financial years, according to data released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes on Monday: from 3.79 crores in 2013-14 to 6.85 crores in 2017-18. Further, the direct tax to GDP ratio rose to 5.98% in 2017-18, the highest it has been in the last 10 years. The average income reported by individual and corporate taxpayers also witnessed a significant rise in the last three years. With tax growth rate surpassing the growth in GDP, the tax buoyancy factor rose to 1.81. This rise in tax compliance has been attributed to the various measures taken by the Union government to increase compliance, including better gathering of information about sources of income, ease of getting refunds, and lowering of various other tax compliance costs. The total direct tax collection is estimated to be over ₹10 lakh crore in 2017-18, an increase of about 18% from the previous year.
The widening of the tax base is clearly good news for a government which, from the very beginning of its tenure, has declared its intent to improve tax collections. But the contribution of direct taxes to the total amount of taxes collected by the government, which is currently 52.29%, is still below what it was when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. In fact, the share of direct taxes has fallen every single year since 2013-14, except this year. It is also far too low when compared to its peak of over 60% in 2009-10. In other words, most of the rise in the total tax collection in the last few years has come from indirect tax collections. This year, direct tax collection increased at a higher rate compared to the collection of indirect taxes. Going forward, a further increase in the share of direct taxes will help the government to lower regressive indirect taxes that impose a significant burden on the poor. Direct taxes are also a better choice from the standpoint of economic efficiency as they help avoid the severe distortionary effects of indirect taxes such as the Goods and Services Tax. Amidst increasing global tax competition, India is likely to face pressure to bring down corporate tax rates if it wants to maintain its stature as an attractive investment destination. Efforts to draft a new direct tax code, however, are yet to yield fruit due to bureaucratic delays. The government will do well to address this issue.
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Excess, buoyancy, galore, multitudinousness, nimiety, preponderancy
between, amidst, in, during
amidst, amongst, between