What is it? The number of Rajya Sabha members who voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. None voted against the bill, with AIADMK abstaining.
Why is it important? This is the crucial step before implementing GST that will replace various indirect taxes collected by the centre and the states, with one tax and one rate across India. Near unanimous vote in favour of the bill was possible after central government acceded to one of the key demand of the Congress party to scrap 1% inter-state tax on movement of goods.
Tell me more: At present, the central government has powers to tax production (excise duty) and services (service tax), and the states have power to tax consumption (VAT). Under GST, all the three will be merged as one tax, GST, and both the states and the central government can tax them. To do this, the constitution has to be amended and any amendment to the constitution has to be accompanied by a two-third majority voting.
What is it? The additional quantity of tur and urad dal that the Indian government is to import.
Why is it important? This will help check their prices. The production of pulses is estimated to have dipped in 2015-16 and average prices have increased by nearly 30% last year. However, states are to partially responsible for the high prices of pulses as they have been reluctant to lift pulses allocated to them by the central government for retail sale at subsidised prices. Of the 29,100 tonnes allocated to 11 states, three states have lifted just a little over 16% of the pulses.
Tell me more: There is a buffer stock of 1.75 lakh tonnes of pulses so far. The central government sells tuvar dal at Rs 67 per kg and urad dal at Rs 82 per kg.
Why is it important? This makes Vodafone the highest gainer of customers through this medium, followed by Bharti Airtel and Idea, which added 3.82 crore and 1.8 crore users respectively. Besides these three, other telecom service providers were net losers of customers through MNP, with Reliance Communications losing the maximum customers (1.18 crore).
Tell me more: All the telecom players, however, were found to be guilty of hampering the process of their customers shifting to other service providers and were fined a cumulative Rs 9.45 crore for not abiding by the MNP rules. Bharti Airtel attracted half of the fine followed by Aircel (Rs 1.58 crore), Vodafone (Rs 1.22 crore), BSNL (Rs 1 crore) with the penalties on other players ranging between less than a lakh to a few lakh rupees.
What is it? The proposed penalty for drunken driving (up from Rs 2,000), as per the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.
Why is it important? The bill, which has increased penalties for various traffic violations by 2-10 times, if passed, is likely to help in the government’s target of curbing road accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years. In 2015, 1.46 lakh people were killed in road accidents while the number of injured was over 5 lakh. According to a 2011 study by the United Nations, India has the highest number of road deaths in the world.
Tell me more: The proposed increases in penalties include: Rs 5,000 for driving without a license and racing (from Rs 500), Rs 1,000 for driving without a seat belt (from Rs 100), Rs 2,000 for driving without an insurance (from Rs 1,000), Rs 5,000 for dangerous driving (from Rs 1,000), Rs 1,000 and disqualification of license for three months for driving without a helmet (from Rs 100) and Rs 10,000 for not giving way for emergency vehicles.
What is it? The number of startups Ratan Tata has invested in over the last two years
Why is it important? That makes him one of the most active investors in the country and in fact he was ranked the top angel investor last year. Now, Mr Tata is setting up full fledged a venture capital fund in partnership with University of California and with a corpus of $100 million to $150 million.
Tell me more: Ratan Tata’s investments include Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Ola and Zivame.