The Current Affairs sections:
Notes on Current Affairs
have been updated with January 2015 news.
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With the BSE Sensex gaining nearly 30 percent in 2014 and about 6 percent so far this year, investors are eagerly awaiting reforms in the budget, which is being billed as a “make-or-break” event for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Based on a new calculation method, India grew 7.5 percent year-on-year in the last quarter and is on track to expand 7.4 percent in the year through March 31, but experts say the revised growth numbers are at odds with evidence on the ground.
Here’s a look at budgets between 2010 and 2014 — the hits, the misses, and how they affected the common man.
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Via – Reuters.com
The 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy, has recommended a 10 per cent jump in the devolution of tax revenues to States to 42 per cent, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans for greater flexibility to States. The total devolution to States will rise to 45 per cent of Union tax revenues in 2015-16.
In a letter to all Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister said the increase in resources given to States will give them the required freedom to tailor make development schemes to suit their needs.
The higher tax share to states would also have a significant impact on the Centre’s revenue and expenditure projections and the fiscal consolidation roadmap to be presented in the Union Budget 2015-16 on February 28.
The Commission has also recommended ₹2.87 lakh crore as grants to local bodies, using criteria of population and land area that would be divided into a basic grant and a performance grant. While panchayats would be given ₹2 lakh crore in grants, municipalities would receive ₹87,143 crore.
Though it did not award any special dispensation to debt-ridden States, the Commission has provided ₹1.94 lakh crore as a post devolution revenue deficit grant. This would help wipe out the revenue deficit of States like Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
The Commission has also suggested that the government should set up a GST compensation fund to pay States for revenue losses once the goods and services tax is implemented. The compensation should be given to States for five years, with 100 per cent compensation being paid in the first, second and third years, and 75 per cent and 50 per cent compensation in fourth and fifth year, respectively.
The bigger pluses for metal companies which have won leases for coal blocks in the ongoing auction are long-term in nature, say analysts. Compared to the cost of import, the current bid prices are still lower. The price in international markets is in any case much lower from the peak of a few years earlier and, hence, companies would benefit when prices revive. This is apart from raw material security.
So far, Hindalco Industries, flagship company of Aditya Birla Group, has won two small mines, Kathautia in Jharkhand and Gare Palma IV-5 in Chhattisgarh. Vedanta Group company Bharat Aluminium (Balco) has won the Chotia mine in Korba, the area from where it had also earlier sourced coal, from the Gevra & Kusmunda mines of South Eastern Coalfields.
Though Hindalco is paying a high price for captive coal in the auctions, almost close to landed cost via the e-auction route, the landed cost from the mine allotted will still be at a 30-35 per cent discount from imported coal.
For Balco, the Chotia mine in the Korba region has not changed much for the company in terms of coal pricing.
Demands for greater devolution of funds to States from non-NDA Chief Ministers dominated the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting on 7 February 2015, at his 7 Race Course Road residence.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam pitched for higher flow of funds from the Centre to the States and demanded that States’ share of funding of flagship programmes be limited to 25 per cent only.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sought 90 per cent grants for central schemes saying Prime Minister Modi’s new mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ was not possible without provision of adequate resources to economically weaker States.
Kerela Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded that the Aayog continue with the functions the erstwhile Planning Commission performed — of determining, in consultation with the Union Finance Ministry and State Governments, the amount of resources to be made available to the States for Plan and Budget preparation.
Noting that India cannot advance without all its States advancing in tandem, the Prime Minister said that he envisioned different States competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives, in a spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism. Mr. Modi said that though the world had started looking at India differently, the biggest challenge for the country still was how to eliminate poverty. He said jobs cannot be created, and poverty cannot be removed without growth. “First and foremost we should aim at a high rate of growth,” he said.
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Via The Hindu
What seems a failure at first (like, say, the electric light) becomes indispensable. And what seems destined to succeed (Hello there, Apple Newton!) can soon become a toss-away item. So claiming any invention as a “sure bet” is an easy way to set yourself up for humiliation.
There are items, though, that certainly have the potential to dramatically impact the way people live—from interacting with the world around them, to exploring deep space, to simply finding ways to survive in hostile environments.
Some have been on the market a few years; others are just gaining traction; and others, still, are in the late formulative stages, but each of these inventions has the potential to change the world as we know it today.
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NASA has developed a new interactive 3D app that can allow avid space explorers reach the launch pad of space missions – virtually.
Smartphone and tablet users can experience the excitement of standing on the launch pad beneath NASA’s massive new rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, with the app that previews the starting point for the journey to Mars.
The app works by pointing the device up to see to the top of the rocket, or holding level to see the details of the solid rocket boosters and engines, NASA said.
No matter where the user is, opening the scene viewer portion of the app shows what the device’s camera would see if it were at the launch pad with the huge SLS rocket setting up for liftoff.
These views won’t exist in real-life until NASA sends SLS carrying an Orion spacecraft to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon as the agency pioneers deep into space, but gives users a taste of what the powerful launches will entail.
Called NASA 3DV, for 3-D view, the inventive app shows viewers 3-D models of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, the fixtures of NASA’s push to send astronauts on deep space exploration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.
The app also shows virtual models of the crawler transporter that carried the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttle to the launch pad and is on tap to take the SLS and Orion on the same trip.