At the stroke of midnight, Jammu & Kashmir ceased to be a
state of the Union, making way for two new Union territories of J&K and
This marks an important milestone in the history of J&K and,
especially, Kashmir Valley’s tense ties with the rest of the country, and
culminates the process which started on August 5 with the landmark announcement
for emasculation of Article 370 as well as end of statehood for J&K.
This also put to an end to J&K’s flag and constitution, symbols
of the state’s special status. With October 31 fixed as the appointed day for
reorganisation of J&K, the new lieutenant governors of the two UTs — G C Murmu
in J&K and R K Mathur in Ladakh — will be sworn in at separate ceremonies in
Srinagar and Leh, respectively.
The creation of the UTs of J&K and Ladakh coincides with the
birth anniversary of SardarVallabhbhai Patel, credited with the merger of over
560 states with the Indian Union and who has been promoted by the Modi
government as the embodiment of national unity and muscular nationalism.
This is the first time that a state is being bifurcated into two
UTs. In the past, there have been instances of a UT becoming a full state or a
state being reorganised into two states.
The total number of states in the country will now be reduced to
28 while the number of UTs will go up to nine.
According to the J&K Reorganisation Act, the UT of J&K will have
a legislature, like Puducherry, while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature,
like Chandigarh, and both the UTs will be headed by two separate lieutenant
Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will now be eligible to
apply for the National Pension System at par with Non Resident Indians (NRIs).
Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has permitted
Overseas Citizen of India to enrol in NPS.
Finance Ministry in a notification said that OCI may subscribe
to NPS provided such person is eligible to invest as per the provisions of the
PFRDA Act and the accumulated saving will be repatriable, subject to Foreign
Exchange Management Act guidelines.
PFRDA in its endeavour to promote and develop NPS has taken
several initiatives towards increasing the pension coverage in the country. Now,
any Indian citizen, resident or non-resident and OCIs are eligible to join NPS
till the age of 65 years.
Till 26th of this month, the total number of subscribers under
NPS and Atal Pension Yojana has crossed 3.18 crores and the Asset under
Management has grown to over 3.79 lakh crore rupees.
More than 66 lakh government employees have been enrolled under
NPS and 19.2 lakhs subscribers have subscribed to NPS in the private sector with
6,812 entities registered as corporates.
The government is unlikely to moderate personal income tax
rates for the rich due to fiscal stress on account of lower tax realisation
amid slowdown in the economy, sources said.
Pressure is mounting on the government to cut personal income
tax rates to boost demand, especially after the finance ministry reduced the
corporate tax rate by up to 10 percentage points.
According to sources, personal income tax rate cut is difficult
at this juncture due to multiple factors like slowdown in economy, lower tax
realisation and subdued non-tax mop up.
In the biggest reduction in 28 years, the government cut
corporate tax rates by almost 10 percentage points as it looks to pull the
economy out of a six-year low growth of 5 per cent recorded during the first
quarter of the current fiscal.
In order to collect more tax from the super-rich, the government
in Budget 2019-20 enhanced the rate of surcharge on individuals with taxable
income of more than Rs 2 crore.
Even the panel on Direct Tax Code in its report favoured
moderation in personal income tax, simplification of procedure, and improving
compliance with a view to raise revenue from direct tax.
A high-level advisory group (HLAG) on trade and policy has
recommended simpler regulatory and tax framework for overseas investment
funds, allowing individual investment from abroad in Indian debt and capital
markets, and state-specific policies to facilitate foreign direct investment
The group also favours a single ministry for the regulation of
medical devices across the value chain, an independent commission on
pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, a simpler medical visa regime and health
insurance portability of social security entitlements across countries.
The group led by SurjitBhalla, a former member of the Prime
Minister's Economic Advisory Council, and formed last year in September has also
proposed making Invest India the centralised authority for issuing licences.
This authority should be made answerable to an apex
decision-making body, headed by a select set of ministers who can approve
investment, it suggested.
Besides identifying products where India has an export advantage
to build up domestic competitiveness in these products, the panel also wants the
government to “begin process of identifying and resolving non-tariff barriers
which prevent Indian exports from accessing key importing nations”, starting
with the major countries with which India has FTAs.
A 150-strong Syrian constitutional committee is meeting for
the first time in Geneva today under UN auspices to chart a political
settlement to end the eight-and-a-half-year civil war.
The aim of the meeting is to agree on a new constitution for
Syria, but it is unclear if this will mean redrafting the existing constitution,
written in 2012, or starting from scratch.
The meeting is a key proposal from Moscow in Geneva is being
overseen by the UN special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen. No deadline has been
set for the end of talks, but Pedersen has said all sides had promised to work
Meanwhile,Turkish Defence Minister HulusiAkar today said that
talks between Turkish and Russian officials on developments in northeast Syria
have concluded and the two delegations have largely reached an agreement.
Today Turkish President TayyipErdogan said that Joint
Turkish-Russian patrols will begin on Friday in northeastern Syria, following a
Russian-brokered cease-fire that promised to have Syrian Kurdish forces withdraw
to the south.
Rising sea levels and coastal flooding linked to climate
change induced warming of waters, melting Arctic sea ice and early onset
Antarctic sea ice instability will put hundreds of millions of people more
than previously estimated at risk submerging substantial areas of coastal
cities such as Mumbai.
The study estimates that by 2050, without dramatic reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions, at least 300 million people across the world, that is
more than three times the currently accepted number of 80 million, will be at
risk of annual coastal flooding.
The largest concentration of at risk population is six Asian
countries—China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand—where
approximately 237 million live in coastal areas. This is roughly 183 million
more than previous assessment of at-risk population in these countries.
This new study augments the understanding of the scale of the
impact of rising sea levels. “These assessments show the potential of climate
change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines, and entire global regions
within our lifetimes,” said Scott Kulp, a senior scientist at Climate Central
and lead author of the study.
Disaster management, he explained, is seen as something that may
occur once or more in a year. “If you see the recent data, you would find that
more extreme events are being reported and frequency of these events has
increased considerably over past 4-5 years. This is the new normal and so we may
like to plan it accordingly.”