Portable Kit to Check Water Contamination
- National Centre for Compositional Characterization of Materials (NCCCM), Chemistry Group, BARC, located at Hyderabad has developed a portable visual detection kit for detection of hexavalent chromium [Cr.(VI)].
- Its range is between 5 to 500 ng/ml(ppb) in water and it can detect the same within 5 minutes.
- Chromium exists in the environment primarily in two valence states, trivalent chromium (Cr III) and hexavalent chromium (Cr VI).
- Cr (III) is biologically important element and needed for glucose and lipid metabolism.
- Cr (VI), however, is considered toxic and IARC (International Agency for Research in Cancer, WHO) has classified it as a group 1 agent, defined as carcinogenic to humans.
- According to the method developed, three reagents kept inside different bottles are to be added to the clear water sample.
- Reagent 1 and Reagent 2 are added and mixed for two minutes.
- The third reagent is then added and mixed thoroughly (shaken for 1-2 minutes).
- Within 5 minutes, a pink color develops in the top layer and the intensity of this is compared by visual inspection to obtain the Cr(VI) range in water.
- By this method Cr(VI) can be detected in drinking water sources such as ground water, lake water, river water, etc.
- According to Indian standard IS10500, maximum permissible limit for Cr (VI) in drinking water is 50 ng/mL and as per United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) it is 10 ng/mL and the kit meets the requirements of both the standards.
- The technology of this kit has been transferred to M/S LTek Systems, Nagpur for commercialization of the product for societal benefit.
The Belmont Forum
- The Belmont Forum, created in 2009, is a high level group of the world’s major and emerging funders of global environmental change research and international science councils.
- It provides an opportunity to identify study and deliver international environmental research priorities, for the society, in an accelerated way through transnational research collaboration between natural and social scientists and alignment of international resources.
- India is a member of Belmont Forum, besides Australia, Brazil, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, Netherland, South Africa, UK and USA etc.
- Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), represents India in the Belmont Forum since 2012.
- In order to coordinate the activities of the Belmont, a Secretariat is hosted by one of the Belmont forum member on rotational basis.
- The Agreement will help to maintain a certain degree of continuity in the operations of the Forum and also help in smooth coordination of the activities of Belmont Forum.
- As India is already participating in 4 Collaborative Research Actions (CRAs) and Secretariat will be coordinating the activities of Belmont Forum, Indian scientific community will ultimately benefit from this agreement.
- Since the inception of Belmont Forum in 2009, its operations were being handled by a part-time secretariat associated with the respective Chairs of the Belmont Forum.
- As the Co-chairs are rotational, the Secretariat also rotates and some time co-chairs are from different Continents with different time zone.
In order to maintain a certain degree of continuity in the operations of the Forum, establishment of a Full-time Secretariat was agreed upon by Belmont Forum members, on rotational basis.
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) along with the Ministries of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has agreed to link all Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) with rural development processes under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).
- In this regard, a Tripartite Agreement between MHRD, Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Panchayati Raj was also signed as an attempt to bring about substantial improvements in the formulation and delivery of developmental schemes in the rural areas.
- It is envisaged that representatives of Higher Education Institutions interact with local bodies and community in selected village clusters and provide knowledge inputs into the Gram Panchayat Development Plans.
- MHRD, Department of Higher Education has formulated this scheme and first phase is under implementation in several parts of the country.
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has been designated as the Coordinating Institute.
The MHRD has advised all the HEIs, to adopt clusters of backward Gram Panchayats / villages in their vicinity and apply their knowledge and expertise to improve the infrastructure in the Gram Panchayats (GPs). HEIs in the districts are expected to:-
- carry out detailed field study,
- participate in conceptualising& preparation of community-level development plans
- along with the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj personnel
- by providing technical, managerial inputs and by suggesting innovative solutions to the issues faced in the day-to-day lives of the households therein,
- in the areas of livelihoods,
- energy security, environment and basic living amenities.
- The institutions have been advised to continue their engagement with chosen Panchayats and offer assistance to the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj personnel.
- The program is to be implemented over the next two years, with additional clusters.
Introduction of GST
- Tax on sale or purchase of goods within a State as per Entry List II of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is a State subject.
- Accordingly, VAT was been introduced by the concerned States, in place of turnover taxes.
- The introduction of VAT ensured that credit of taxes paid on the inputs were available to a tax payer while discharging his output tax liability.
- This helped in minimizing cascading of taxes at the State level and in increasing compliance because of the in-built mechanism of transfer of input tax credit.
- VAT led to a simplification of taxes at the State level.
- Presently, the Constitution empowers the Central Government to levy excise duty on manufacturing and service tax on the supply of services.
- Similarly, it empowers the State Governments to levy sales tax or value added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods.
- This exclusive division of fiscal powers has led to a multiplicity of indirect taxes in the country.
- Further, central sales tax (CST) is levied on intra-State sale of goods by the Central Government, but collected and retained by the exporting States.
- In addition, many States also levy an entry tax on the entry of goods in local areas.
- This multiplicity of taxes at the State and Central levels has resulted in a complex indirect tax structure in the country that is ridden with hidden costs for the trade and industry.
- Firstly, there is no uniformity of tax rates and structure across States.
- Secondly, there is cascading of taxes due to ‘tax on tax’.
- No credit of excise duty and service tax paid at the stage of manufacture is available to the traders while paying the State level sales tax or VAT, and vice-versa.
- Further, no credit of State taxes paid in one State can be availed in other States.
- Hence, the prices of goods and services get artificially inflated to the extent of this ‘tax on tax’.
- The introduction of GST would mark a clear departure from the scheme of distribution of fiscal powers envisaged in the Constitution.
- The proposed dual GST envisages taxation of the same taxable event, i.e., supply of goods and services, simultaneously by both the Centre and the States.
- Therefore, both Centre and States will be empowered to levy GST across the value chain from the stage of manufacture to consumption.
- The credit of GST paid on inputs at every stage of value addition would be available for the discharge of GST liability on the output.
- Thereby ensuring GST is charged only on the component of value addition at each stage. This would ensure that there is no ‘tax on tax’ in the country.
- It is expected to reduce cost of production and inflation in the economy, thereby making the Indian trade and industry more competitive, domestically as well as internationally.
- It is also expected that introduction of GST will foster a common or seamless Indian market and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.
- Further, GST will broaden the tax base, and result in better tax compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure.
Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivize tax compliance by traders.
100% FDI in White Label ATM operations
Government has allowed Foreign Investment upto 100% in White Label ATM (WLA) operations, subject to the following conditions
- Any non-bank entity intending to set up WLA should have minimum net worth of Rs. 100 crore as per latest financial year’s audited balance sheet, which is to be maintained at all times.
- In case the entity is also engaged in any other 18 Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) activities, then the foreign investment in the company setting up WLA, shall also comply with the minimum capitalization norms for foreign investment in NBFC activities.
Types of ATMs–
- White label ATMs-
- White Label ATMs are those ATMs which set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities incorporated under Companies Act 1956.
- Brown label ATMs-
- Brown label ATMs are owned and maintained by service provider whereas bank whose brand is used on ATM takes care of cash management and network connectivity.
- Green label ATMs-
- These ATMs are provided specifically for Agricultural transactions.
- Orange Label ATMs-
- ATMs provided for Share Transactions.
- Yellow Label ATMs-
- ATMs provided for E-commerce
- Pink label ATM-
- ATM provided for women banking