Cabinet approves new approvals including repromulgation of triple talaq
Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to re-promulgate the ordinance making
instant triple talaq a criminal offence. The ordinance makes all declarations of
instant triple talaq void and illegal and the practice a punishable offence with
imprisonment of three years. In order to boost healthcare infrastructure in the
country, the Cabinet has approved the establishment of three more All India
Institute of Medical Sciences, AIIMS.
Two of them will be set up in Jammu and Kashmir and the third will come up
in Gujarat. Expressing gratitude, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said the
approval follows the prime minister's vision and upholds the spirit of 'Sabka
Saath, Sabka Vikas'.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to re-issue an ordinance to allow a Committee
to run the Medical Council of India. The Cabinet also approved the creation of
the post of Vice Chancellor for National Rail and Transport Institute in Vadodara, Gujarat.
Beside, signing of MoUs with many countries on different fields has also
been approved at the Cabinet meeting. Approval has been given for a MoU between
India and France for technical bilateral cooperation in the field of new and
renewable energy. The Cabinet also gave its nod to a MoU on Maritime issues with
It approved a MoU with Japan on Development of Advanced Model Single Window
to promote Ease of Doing Business in India. Also, the proposal for entering into
an Agreement for Bilateral Swap Arrangement with Japan also cleared. To provide
tax assistance by Indian experts to African nation Eswatini, signing of terms of
reference has also been approved by the Cabinet.
States agree on Renukaji Multipurpose dam project
An agreement for Renukaji Dam Multipurpose Project will be signed today
among the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan
and Uttarakhand. The project is aimed at meeting the drinking water needs of
The agreement will be signed in the presence of Water Resources, River
Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi. All the
six Chief Ministers will also be present on the occasion.
Under it, three storage projects are proposed to be constructed on the
river Yamuna and two of its tributaries - Tons and Giri in the hilly regions of
Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
These include Lakhwar project on river Yamuna in Uttarakhand, Kishau on
river Tons in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and Renukaji on river Giri in
The projects were conceived in 2008. Most of the irrigation cost and the
drinking water component of these projects will be funded by the central
government. In addition to this a concession agreement will also be signed for Namami Gange projects for the city of Prayagraj under Hybrid Annuity Mode and
One City One Operator Concept.
Small businesses get sigh of relief in GST council meeting
The GST Council in its 32nd meeting on Thursday — the last before the
Budget — took a slew of decisions aimed at reducing the tax and compliance
burden on small and medium enterprises, including increasing the threshold limit
below which companies are exempt from GST, extending the Composition Scheme to
small service providers, and allowing small companies to file annual returns.
The Council also raised the annual turnover limit under which companies
would be exempt from GST to Rs. 40 lakh for most States and Rs. 20 lakh for the
North Eastern and hill states, from the earlier limit of Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 10
Mr. Jaitley announced that the limit for eligibility for the Composition
Scheme would be raised to an annual turnover of Rs. 1.5 crore from April 1,
2019. He added that companies opting for the Composition Scheme would be allowed
to file annual returns and pay taxes quarterly from April 1.
The Composition Scheme currently allows companies with an annual turnover
of up to Rs. 1 crore to opt for it, and file returns on a quarterly basis at a
nominal rate of 1%. So far, only manufacturers and traders were eligible for
Mr. Jaitley said that the Council had decided to extend the Composition
Scheme to small service providers with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 50 lakh,
at a tax rate of 6%.
The GST Council also decided to allow Kerala to levy a cess of up to 1% for
up to two years on intra-State supplies to help finance the disaster relief
efforts following the recent floods in the state.
RBI defers capital buffer norms leveraging funds for banks
The Reserve Bank on Thursday deferred the implementation of the last tranche of Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) by a year, a move that would
leave about an estimated Rs. 37,000 crore capital in the hands of banks.
This would help banks increase lending by over Rs. 3.5 lakh crore by
leveraging ten times the capital.
Accordingly, minimum capital conservation ratios of 2.5% would be
applicable from March 31, 2020.Currently, the CCB of banks stands at 1.875%
of the core capital.
The CCB is the capital buffer that banks have to accumulate in normal
times to be used for offsetting losses during periods of stress. It was
introduced after the 2008 global financial crisis to improve the ability of
banks to withstand adverse economic conditions.
Further, it said, the pre-specified trigger for loss absorption
through conversion or write-down of additional tier 1 instruments will
remain at 5.5% of risk-weighted asset (RWA) and will rise to 6.125% of RWAs
on March 31, 2020. The decision to defer CCB was taken at the November 19
meeting of the central board of directors.
U.S urging a diplomatic withdrawal of troops from Syria
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Thursday that the U.S. and its
allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria,
urging nations in the West Asian region to forge a common stand against
“It's time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good
of the region,” said Mr. Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo. America “will
use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot”
from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the
long-suffering Syrian people,” he added.
In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Mr. Pompeo said the
U.S. is creating an anti-Iran front, bringing together Gulf countries as
well as Egypt and Jordan.
He also stressed that the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead but
said that the U.S. would remain engaged.
Meanwhile, Turkey renewed its threat to launch an offensive against
“If the (pullout) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are
massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this
decision,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told NTV television.
Turkish officials had a tense meeting this week with Mr. Trump’s
National Security Adviser John Bolton in Ankara aimed at coordinating the
U.S to go ahead with border wall during Mexico meeting
President Donald Trump reached McAllen, Texas yesterday to push his
demand for controversial US-Mexico border wall. The President is visiting
the US-Mexico border for the first time amid an extended government shutdown
with no deal in sight.
Mr Trump said, more barriers on the frontier with Mexico are needed to
protect the United States from the torrent of violent crime committed by
Opposition Democrats are refusing to approve 5.7 billion dollars in
wall funding, saying that overwhelming numbers of illegal immigrants do not
commit serious crimes and Mr Trump is promoting the project to satisfy his
right-wing base. The standoff has resulted in a partial government shutdown
with hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without pay.
On arrival in Texas, President Trump tweeted that he will skip the
annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland if the
ongoing partial shutdown of the government continues.
Meanwhile, Mexican authorities said yesterday that 21 bodies on the
US-Mexican border had been found after a drug-gang shootout in a town near
where President Donald Trump was due to visit later in the day. Mexico has
been racked by drug-related violence in recent years.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
NASA confirms Hubble telescope camera malfunction
The operations of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most technologically
advanced camera have been suspended after it encountered a hardware problem,
However, the telescope will continue to perform science observations
with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3
anomaly is investigated, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.
The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 was installed by space-walking
astronauts during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009.
NASA said that the camera is equipped with back-up electronics that
can be called to action should they be needed to recover the instrument.
Hubble is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space,
providing an unobstructed view into the universe. Launched in 1990, the
world’s first space telescope helped confirm the theory that the universe is
expanding, lending credence to the Big Bang theory.
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission
began in 1990, taking pictures of stars and galaxies of as it whirls around
Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 15,000
scientific papers, making it one of the most productive scientific
instruments ever built.
IWF President named chief of mission for 2020 olympics
President of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Birendra
Prasad Baishya, has been named Chef de Mission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
IWF Secretary Sahdev Yadav said in a release that it is for the first
time that the Weightlifting has been accorded with the honour of Chef de
Mission for the Olympics.
Baishya is also one of the Indian Olympic Association Vice Presidents.