J&K passes bill to implement GST in the State

Now, as the 101st Constitutional Amendment has been passed by J&K as well, GST has become a pan-India tax.

Goods and Services Tax
Image Source: The Economic Times

On Wednesday, both the Houses of Jammu and Kashmir (legislative assembly and legislative council) passed a resolution adopting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) through a president order.

It is to be noted that GST is a constitutional amendment and no such amendment made to the Constitution of India extends to the state of J&K unless it is extended by a presidential order. Therefore, a presidential order was made to the State to adopt GST.

Read more: All you need to know about GST

Opposition party politicians and separatist leaders claim that GST would be a menace to the special status granted to J&K by the provisions of Article 370 of the constitution and taxation powers granted by Section 5 of the J&K Constitution. However, Finance Minister of J&K rejected their claim and said he would ensure that both Article 370 of the Constitution of India and Section 5 of the J&K Constitution remain unhurt.

Now, as the 101st Constitutional Amendment has been passed by J&K as well, GST has become a pan-India tax.


Indian Polity for Civil Services Examination by M Laxmikanth





During PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, India signs seven agreements with Israel

Image: Modi's Israel visit
Image Source: LiveMint

During the maiden visit of any Indian PM to Israel, India signed seven agreements with Israel, including three on space co-operation, two in the water sectors, one in the agriculture sector, and an MoU was also signed to set up an India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (i4F).

Seven Indo_Israel agreement
Img Source: EconomicTimes

Click here to read about Indo-Israel relationship in detail

Let’s have a look at the agreements in a bit detail:

Agreements in the water sector:

India signed two MoUs in the water sector to increase cooperation on water conservation and state water utility reform in India.

One was signed b/w Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India.

The second one was signed b/w Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources on State Water Utility Reform in India.

Agreements on space co-operation:

Three MoUs were signed b/w India and Israel on space co-operation. It included co-operation in electric propulsion for small satellites, cooperation on atomic clocks, as well as cooperation for the development of GEO-LEO optical link.

These MoUs were signed b/w India’s space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its Israeli counterpart Israel Space Agency (ISA)

Agreement in the agriculture sector:

In the agriculture sector, the two countries have agreed upon India-Israel Development Cooperation – a three-year work programme in agriculture from 2018-20.

Agreement to setup a tech fund (i4F):

India and Israel launched a five-year technology fund – India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (i4D) – aimed at growing the countries’ business relationship, the way a similar fund has boosted the Jewish state’s ties with the US for the past 40 years.


Apart from concluding these seven agreements, India and Israel on Wednesday announced that the two countries will safeguard each other’s strategic interests and cooperate to combat growing radicalisation and terrorism.






Indo-Israel Relations

Indo-Israel relations haven’t been always the same. Relationship b/w both the nations have blossomed since India established full diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1992.

Image: Indo-Israel relationship
Source: Quora

Post-Independence, India opposed the formation of Israel out of Palestine owing to several factors including India’s own partition on religious lines, and India’s relationship with other nations. India also voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949. However, in 1950, India recognised the States of Israel.

Since then to the early 1990s, for a period of more than four decades, the relation of India with the States of Israel remained informal in nature. This informal relationship that India maintained were due to both domestic as well as foreign considerations:

  • Domestically, politicians in India feared losing the Muslim vote if relations were normalised with Israel.
  • India didn’t want to jeopardise the large amount of its citizens working in Arab States of the Persian Gulf, who were helping maintain its foreign-exchange reserves.
  • India’s domestic need for energy was other reason for the lack of normalisation of ties with Israel, in terms of safeguarding the flow of oil from Arab nations

It was in 1992, almost two and a half decades ago, that India established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Since then it has only blossomed.

Do you know: India signs 7 agreements with Israel during PM Modi’s visit

Areas of Co-operation:

  1. Military and Strategic Ties: Since the establishment of formal relationship, India and Israel have increased co-operation in military and intelligence ventures. The fact that both the nations are victim of terrorism supported by the neighbouring country has generated a strong strategic alliance between the two.


Image: Indo-Israel Defence Ties
Source: the diplomat

Defense ties between both the nations have been booming and in fact, India has become Israel’s biggest arms market. Arms deal worth $2.6 billion has been signed in 2017 alone.

Counterterror cooperation and intelligence cooperation have always been high on the India-Israel bilateral agenda. The nature of the terror challenge that the two nations face can be underscored by the recent comments of Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) supreme commander Syed Salahuddin, who suggested that his being declared a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the U.S. State Department was a joint move by the United States, Israel, and India to express their animosity toward Pakistan.

  1. Science and Technology Collaboration: Since the establishment of formal relationship, both the countries have done several science and technological collaborations in the field of IT, biotechnology, lasers, and electro-optics to name a few.
Image: Science and Technological Cooperation b/w India and Israel
Source: Rural Marketing

Several funds, like i4RD, have been created to boost R&D in the field of Science and Technology.

  1. Agricultural Co-operation: Based on Israel’s unique expertise in agriculture, India and Israel signed the Agreement for Agricultural Cooperation in 2006, which evolved into Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP). Within this framework, the State of Israel is contributing its best practices and know-how, and capacity building through professional trainings programs.

To achieve the desired goal, Centres of Excellence are also being established. The Centres of Excellence provide a suitable platform for rapid transfer of technology to the farmers. Protected cultivation, drip irrigation and fertigation, canopy management, nursey production, Integrated Pest Management technologies are demonstrated at the centres and later adopted by the farmers to increase their yield and income.

Centre of Excellence image

  1. Bilateral Trade: Bilateral trade b/w India and Israel grew from $200 million in 1992 to $4.14 billion in 2015.
Image: Indo-Israel bilateral trade
Source: Centre for Public Policy Research

Main items of India’s export to Israel: stones and metals, chemical products, textile and textile articles, plants and vegetable products, mineral products, rubber and plastic products, base metals and machinery

Main items of India’s import from Israel: precious stones and metals, chemical and mineral products, base metals, machinery, and transport equipment.

  1. Space Collaboration: In 2002, India and Israel signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration between both nations. Since then several collaborations between the space agency of both the nations, viz. Israel Space Agency (ISA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have taken place.
Image: Indo-Israel Space Collaboration
Source: Hindustan Times

Recently when India created history by launching 104 satellites through a single rocket, it also included Israel’s “technology demonstrator” nano satellite.








SC allows abortion of ailing foetus

A SC Bench consisting of Justices Dipak Mishra and A.M. Khanwilkar, taking note of the mental stress suffered by the woman, allowed abortion of the ailing foetus.

Supreme Court of India image

The SC on Monday allowed a woman to abort her over 20-weeks-old foetus with severe abnormalities. The court said every woman has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity and she has the right to choose.

This judgement, however, transcends the limit imposed by the law – Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act – 1971. As per the law, abortion is illegal if pregnancy crosses the mark of 20 weeks.

As per Section 3(2) of the Act, abortion is only allowed if pregnancy was under 20 weeks old and done on the advice of only 2 registered medical practitioners, who should certify that the pregnant woman was risking “grave injury to her physical and mental health” or there was a danger of the child being born with a severe mental or physical handicap.

In this case, the woman approached the SC seeking permission to abort her foetus after she discovered that it suffered from a severe form of cardiac impairment called pulmonary atresia. She also presented to the court a report by a paediatric pulmonologist which said there was a high possibility of permanent brain damage.

Pulmonary Atresia Image

Pic Credit: childrenshospital.org

This case is one of the many similar cases that have come to the SC recently. The court’s order s in such cases have been on a case-to-case basis.

National Stock Exchange’s Co-location Case

Recently, watchdog SEBI’s chairman called the NSE co-location case as “serious”. So what is the NSE co-location case all about? Below is the explanation of the same:

National Stock Exchange Image

Source: LiveMint

What is co-location?

Co-location refers to the facility where brokerages can house their servers inside the exchange to get better speed for trade execution. Since, the broker’s server is placed closed to that of exchange, the latency is reduced.

NSE started offering this facility in February 2010.

What is the case?

In 2015, SEBI received three complaints against the exchange alleging that certain brokers with co-location servers were getting access to market data before the other who also had such facilities within NSE. The complaint also alleged that the employees of NSE were also involved in the irregularities.

How did the SEBI and NSE reacted to the complaints?

Following complaints about co-location facility of the exchange, a SEBI-appointed technical advisory committee (TAC) had initiated an examination and found instances of breach of fair access rules by the exchange.

In September 2016, after the findings made by SEBI’s advisory committee, the regulator asked the NSE board to initiate an independent examination of its systems and process. The exchange’s board then appointed Deloitte India to conduct a forensic investigation.

Deloitte in its report highlighted that there were some lapses related to procedures and processes and it could have been that an NSE employee was also involved. It also stated that the technology used by the NSE earlier to offer co-location service was prone to manipulation in terms of lags in information dissemination.

Based on the Deloitte report, NSE decided to look at every single aspect of co-location to ensure everything is transparent and nothing is left to unstated practices.

What is the current status?

Currently, the NSE is strengthening its policies and procedures related to co-location facilities. SEBI, at the same time, is looking into the allegations of selective brokerages getting preferential access at the exchange.

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) may have to refile papers for its ₹10,000- crore IPO (Initial Public Offering) after addressing issues related to alleged preferential access given to some brokers, watchdog SEBI’s Chairman Ajay Tyagi said, terming the co-location case as “a serious matter”. The exchange had, in December, filed its draft papers with SEBI for a Rs. 10,000 IPO and was awaiting SEBI’s approval.





Takeaways from Modi’s U.S. visit

During the three-day visit of PM Narendra Modi to the U.S., several crucial developments took place. Here are the important highlights:

  1. Use of strong words for Pakistan

                                Pic Credit: India TV News

The joint statement went beyond the US’ usual lines and entailed strong wordings against Pakistan. Both the leaders pulled Pakistan for making its territory safe haven for the radical terrorist outfits and asked it to ensure that its territory is not used for the same.

They further asked Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.

  1. Meeting of minds on dealing with terrorism

                                              Pic credit: The Quint

Stressing that terrorism is a global scourge, both the leaders gave out a call to root out the safe havens from every part of the world. Also, both the leaders re-affirmed their commitments to strengthen their cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaeda, ISIS, JeM, and others.

India appreciated the US’ move to designate Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist

  1. Sale of 22 Guardian unmanned aerial systems

Pic Credit: FirstPost

The US has cleared the sale of 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India, with the deal being termed as “game changer”. These drones will help the Indian Navy in keeping watch over the Indian Ocean. The deal would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the NATO alliance.

  1. Positive response of top CEOs about India

Pic Credit: TOI

After PM Narendra Modi met top American CEOs of global giants, including Apple chief Tim Cook, Google head Sundar Pichai and told them about the opportunities both the countries have and role that the companies need to play in reaping them, they (CEOs) seem to be upbeat about continued future investment in India.

  1. Maritime Security and Data Sharing

Pic Credit: DefenseWorld.net

The two leaders also announced their intention to build on the implementation of the “White Shipping” data sharing arrangement. White Shipping data sharing arrangement refers to exchange of relevant advance information on the identity and movement of cargo ships.

They also determined to expand their engagements on shared maritime objectives and explore new exercises, while noting the importance of upcoming Malabar naval exercise. Malabar exercise is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners, and Singapore and Australia as non-permanent partners.

  1. Shifting focus from the Indo-Pacific

While vowing to strengthen their relationship in the Indo-Pacific region, the language seems to be bit softer. This time the wording is more in line with Trump’s take on China.

  1. U.S. LNG for India

It is expected that from next year liquefied petroleum gas (LNG) from the U.S. will start flowing to India. Natural gas being the cleanest fossil fuels among available fuels, LNG import is much-needed to meet the increasing energy demand in India.

  1. Climate change not the agenda

Climate change, which was a major component of Mr. Modi’s engagement with Mr. Obama, has not been part of the agenda during this bilateral meet. US President Donald Trump has been quite vocal in opposing Paris climate treaty and termed it as a hoax perpetrated by China during his election campaign.

  1. Ivanka Trump in India                                                   Pic Credit: The Quint

The President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will lead the U.S. delegation to Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). GES is key foreign policy initiative of former President Barack Obama to bring together global entrepreneurs and innovators, and India will be hosting its next edition.

  1. North Korea comes up

The two leaders also condemned the North Korea’s “continued provocations”. The leaders pledged to work together to counter North Korea’s weapons of mass destructions programs, including by holding accountable all parties that support these programs.