- Jun 14, 2021
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GST rate cut down for COVID-19 medical supplies
On June 12, 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presided over the 44th meeting of the GST Council.
The GST Council has accepted the proposals of the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to look into tax exemption on Covid-19 medical supplies, according to the Union Finance Minister.
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate for ambulances has been reduced from 28 percent to 12 percent by the GST Council.
- COVID-19 testing kits, medical-grade oxygen, and ventilators now have a 5% GST rate instead of the previous 12 percent.
- The GST rate on hand sanitizers has been lowered from 18 percent to 5%. The GST rate for temperature monitoring equipment has been cut from 18 percent to 5%.
- The GST rate on pulse oximeters has been decreased from 12 percent to 5%, including personal imports. In addition, the GST rate on certain inflammatory diagnostic kits has been decreased from 12 percent to 5%.
- The GST rate on gas, electric, and other furnaces for crematoriums, as well as their installation, has been reduced from 18 percent to 5%.
- The GST Council also agreed that medications linked to Covid-19, such as Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B, would not be subject to GST.
- Previously, the GST rate for pharmaceuticals was 5%. Anticoagulant GST rates, such as Heparin and Remdesivir, have also been decreased from 12 percent to 5%.
- The GST Council also agreed that any additional drug recommended for Covid therapy by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Department of Pharma (DoP) will be subject to a 5% GST tax rate.
- The GST Council has also resolved to reduce the tax rate on ventilator masks, canulas, and helmets from 12 percent to 5%.
- The GST rate on BiPAP machines has also been reduced from 12 percent to 5%.
- The GST rate for high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) devices has been reduced from 12 percent to 5%.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed that these rates will be in effect until September 30, 2021, rather than the end of August as the Group of Ministers had suggested.
- She also stated that, based on state advice, the GST Council will decide whether to extend the timeframe further closer to the deadline.
ICMR approves Meril’s self-use Rapid Antigen Test kit
Meril, a Gujarat-based Medtech company, announced on June 10, 2021, that the Indian Council of Medical Research had approved its self-use Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19. It has been named CoviFind.
“We believe CoviFind will be a valuable instrument to solve the ongoing public health issue while alleviating the load on the health system and labs,” said Sanjeev Bhatt, Sr. Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Meril.
- This COVID-19 testing kit for home use will help the country satisfy the demand for more frequent COVID-19 testing.
- In around two weeks, the CoviFind COVID-19 testing kit will be available at pharmacies, e-pharmacies, and e-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon.
- The kit will also be offered for purchase straight from the company website, with a special 25-kit option available for large orders from organisations, organisations, schools, and other organisations.
- The COVID-19 testing materials in the CoviFind package include a test gadget, one sterile nose swab, a pre-filed buffer tube, and a disposable bag, as well as an instruction manual that walks you through the procedure step by step.
- Within 15 minutes, the CoviFind COVID-19 testing kit may detect mild to high COVID-19 levels.
- The CoviFind kit costs about Rs 250. The kit does not require refrigeration or storage.
- In comparison to the traditional technique of inserting nasal swabs up to 8 to 10 cms into the patient’s nose with CoviFind, nasal swabs only need to be put 2 to 4 cms into the patient’s nose.
- Scientists from Mysore University and Lorven Biologics Pvt. Ltd. in Hyderabad have also created a new self-testing COVID-19 kit with an accuracy rate of above 90%.
- The institution has announced that the gear will cost Rs 100. The kit was created using technologies such as molecular biology, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology.
- According to the university, the equipment generates results in less than 10 minutes.
Low-cost sensor developed to detect COVID-19 in wastewater
Researchers from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom and IIT Bombay in India have collaborated to build a low-cost sensor that can identify COVID-19 viral pieces in wastewater.
The sensor was tested on wastewater that had been laced with SARS-Cov-2 RNA and collected from a sewage treatment plant in Mumbai.
- The method can be used to identify places where cases are on the rise and take focused intervention. The approach can also be used to combat other viral epidemics.
- The research will allow health officials to gain a better knowledge of the disease’s prevalence across a greater area.
- The approach can be used to monitor COVID-19 prevalence in low- and middle-income nations that lack the resources to do bulk human testing.
- Researchers from the University of Strathclyde and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay collaborated to create the low-cost sensor.
- The sensor can be used in conjunction with portable equipment that detects the COVID-19 virus using a standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
- It does not necessitate the costly chemicals and lab infrastructure that real-time quantitative PCR assays necessitate.
- The sensor was tested with wastewater laced with SARS-Cov-2 Ribonucleic Acid from a Mumbai sewage treatment plant (RNA).
- At concentrations as low as 10 picograms per microlitre, the sensor was able to detect genetic material.
- The findings were published in the journal Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical by the researchers.
- Due to a lack of testing facilities, several low and middle-income countries have struggled to follow COVID-19.
- As a result, looking for signs of the virus in wastewater should help public health professionals figure out how widespread the sickness is in a bigger area.
Dingko Singh, Asian Games Gold Medallist Boxer, passed away at 42
Dingko Singh, a former boxer who won an Asian Games gold medal, died on June 10, 2021, after a long fight with liver cancer. The Padma Shri-awarded boxer was 42 years old and had been battling cancer since 2017.
Dingko’s historic Asian Games Gold Medal in 1998 boosted the morale of Indian boxing, which had been devoid of success, and went on to inspire Olympic medalists such as Mary Kom and Vijender Singh.
- While paying respect to the tragic death of star boxer Dingko Singh on Twitter, Prime Minister Modi noted that Dingko Singh was a sporting superstar, an amazing fighter who had gained various laurels and had also contributed to spreading the popularity of the sport.
- After their father died and their mother left home, Dingko Singh was one of eight children who lived in Sekta Village in Imphal, Sikkim, with his younger brother and sister.
- While Dingko was in the orphanage, his siblings went to work as agricultural labourers. He met his first coach, Ibomcha Singh, there, and won the sub-junior National Boxing Championship at the age of ten in 1989.
- Dingko Singh debuted in the world of international boxing in 1997, winning the King’s Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.
- He was named the best boxer of the meet in Bangkok, in addition to winning the tournament.
- He later went on to represent India at the Asian Games in 1998, where he earned a gold medal and the Summer Olympics in 2000.
- After hanging up his gloves, Dingko Singh, was employed by the Indian Navy, turned to coaching.
- Dingko Singh is best known for winning the gold medal in the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998.
- In the same year that he won the Asian Gold Medal, he received the Arjuna Award.
- Dingko Singh was awarded the Padma Shri Award in 2013 for his outstanding contribution to boxing. It is the fourth highest civilian honour in the country.
Brisbane to be named host of 2032 Olympic Games
On June 10, 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board chose to recommend Brisbane as the host city for the 2032 Olympics.
The Executive Board’s decision was based on a report by the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Games, which had recently completed a full review of the Brisbane 2032 concept.
- Members of the International Olympic Committee are likely to vote to approve this at the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo on July 21, 2021.
- Following the executive board meeting, the IOC president announced that Brisbane might be given hosting rights for the 2032 Olympics at the IOC meeting on July 21st, just days before the Tokyo Olympics began.
- Brisbane will become the first Olympics host city to be chosen without competition under a new approach designed to streamline and speed up bidding campaigns.
- When the IOC picked the Australian city as the favoured bidder in February 2021, it was put on a fast track to host the tournament.
- Brisbane’s bid was directed by IOC Vice President John Coates.
- The IOC Board’s unanimous decision may be attributed to years of hard work by Brisbane 2032, the Australian Olympic Committee, and their partners.
- By January 2021, it was fairly obvious that Brisbane 2032 was well on its way to becoming ready.
- Future Host Commission Chair Kristin Kloster Aasen said the commission has worked closely with the Brisbane 2032 project through a collaborative partnership to see how their vision, concept, and legacy plans for the Olympic and Paralympic Games could align with the city’s and region’s social and economic development plans.
How does the IOC select future hosts?
- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has adopted a new, more flexible way to select future Olympic Games hosts.
- Summer and Winter Future Host Commissions are now permanently open to exploratory, non-binding discussions with cities, regions, and nations, as well as their individual National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
- They confirm their intentions to host the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.
- Other Interested Parties are in constant contact to help them build their exceptional and prospective future initiatives.
Indian diplomat Nagaraj Naidu to be UNGA President’s Chef de Cabinet for the first time
On June 10, 2021, Nagaraj Naidu, India’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, was named Chef de Cabinet to President-elect of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. His term will be one year long.
For the first time, an Indian ambassador has been appointed as the UNGA’s Chef de Cabinet. The position is similar to that of the Indian Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff or Principal Secretary.
- In addition to Nagaraj Naidu’s appointment, UNGA President and Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid also named Ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain as Special Envoy to the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
- On June 7, 2021, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid was named President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th session.
- His one-year term will begin in September 2021.
- During the election, he received 143 votes. This is also the first time a Maldivian native has been elected President of the United Nations General Assembly, with India endorsing his candidacy.
- Nagaraj Naidu is an Indian Foreign Service officer from the 1998 batch.
- He has served in China for four distinct stents and is fluent in the language.
- In 2008, Naidu graduated from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with a master’s degree in law and diplomacy.
- From 2000 to 2003, Naidu worked at the Indian Embassy in Beijing as the Third and Second Secretary (Special Projects).
- He served as Consul (Political and Commercial) in the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong from 2003 to 2006.
- From 2009 to 2012, he worked at the Indian Embassy in Beijing as First Secretary and Counsellor (Economic and Commercial Affairs).
- From 2013 until 2015, he served as the Consul General of India in Guangzhou, China.
- From 2015 to 2017, Naidu was the Joint Secretary/Director General of the Ministry of External Affairs’ Economic Diplomacy Division in New Delhi, India.
- During his leadership, the MEA’s Economic Diplomacy Division was awarded the “SKOCH Platinum First Prize for Smart Governance.”
- Naidu has also served on the boards of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Invest India, Water and Power Consultancy Services Ltd (WAPCOS), and the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO).
- Naidu was also the National Coordinator for the International Solar Alliance’s establishment in India.
- He was the Joint Secretary/Director General of the Europe West Division from 2017 to 2018.
- He was in charge of India’s relations with the European Union, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, San Marino, Andorra, and Monaco.
Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter Prize
Tsitsi Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean writer who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, has won the PEN Pinter Prize 2021. The annual award is offered to an author with a ‘significant corpus of poetry, essays, plays, or fiction of great literary worth, written in English,’ according to the website.
Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of ‘Nervous Conditions,’ was arrested in 2020 while protesting and speaking out against corruption. For her work, ‘This Mournable Body,’ she was also nominated for the Booker Prize 2020.
- Tsitsi Dangarembga will receive the award at a public ceremony on October 11, 2021, English PEN announced while announcing the winner of the PEN Pinter Prize 2021.
- It is being given in partnership with the British library.
- Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of the novel ‘Nervous Conditions,’ which she published at the age of 25.
- Her novel has been called “one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.” Tambudzai, a country girl, is the protagonist of the book.
- Nervous Conditions was followed by ‘The Book of Not,’ which is about Tambu’s teenage years, and ‘This Mournable Body,’ which was also Booker-shortlisted and set in post-colonial Zimbabwe in the 1990s.
- Dangarembga is a dramatist, filmmaker, and activist who was detained in Harare in 2020 during a protest.
- Dangarembga is a dramatist, filmmaker, and activist who was detained in Harare in 2020 during a protest.
- She was charged with inciting public violence with the intent to do so. Her case, however, stalled, and free speech organisations, as well as her fellow writers, demanded that the allegations against her be withdrawn.
- Claire Armitstead, an English PEN Trustee, says that she has chartered the growth of Zimbabwe from a British colony to an autocratic and problematic free state via her trilogy of novels.
- Dangarembga has therefore magnified the challenges of regular people in so many regions of the world to live good lives in a broken and increasingly violent environment.
- The renowned award is given to a writer of exceptional literary merit who, as Harold Pinter stated in his Nobel acceptance speech, “demonstrates a passionate intellectual resolve to define the true truth of our lives and communities.”
- Margaret Atwood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Linton Kwesi Johnson are among the former winners of the award. In 2009, the PEN Pinter Prize was established.
- It is granted in remembrance of Nobel Laureate playwright Harold Pinter by the free speech advocates English PEN.
- The winning writer must be a resident of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or a former Commonwealth, according to the website.
Who was Margherita Hack?
On her 99th birthday, Google Doodle honoured Italian astronomer and scientific disseminator Margherita Hack with an animated graphic. “Hack sitting on her chair, peering through her telescope,” says the doodle. In 1995, Hack is credited with discovering an asteroid 8558 Hack, which was named after her.
Hack was a full professor of astronomy at the University of Trieste and was born on June 12, 1922, in Florence. From 1964 to 1987, she was the first Italian woman to be in charge of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory.
- Hack’s scientific interests and studies spanned a wide spectrum of topics. Her main area of expertise was spectroscopic features of stars, which she observed and interpreted.
- In this discipline, she investigated the chemical makeup of stars, as well as their surface temperature and gravity.
- She worked on the UV data from the Copernicus satellite in the 1970s with the goal of researching the energetic events that occur in the external part of the stellar atmosphere.
- The research also focused on how this phenomenon is related to mass losses that must be accounted for in theoretical stellar evolution models.
- Her first scientific paper, based on Copernicus’ data, was published in Nature, 1974.
- She was involved in education, outreach, and politics in addition to science. On June 12, 2012, she was awarded the title of “Dama di Gran Croce,” the highest honour bestowed by the Italian Republic, on her 90th birthday.
New policy approved for the declassification of war history
The Ministry of Defence has issued a new policy that mandates that events must be publicly recorded within five years, establishing a defined schedule for collection, publication, archiving, and declassification of the histories of India’s wars and operations.
It states that “records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled,” and that “records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled.”
- The government will, however, retain discretionary authority over withholding records it considers important — the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report is one such example.
- Despite the fact that it has been six decades since the war, an operations evaluation of the Indian Army in the 1962 conflict with China has not been made public.
- The importance of quickly compiling and publishing battle chronicles has been emphasised in the past.
- Despite the fact that reports were written, many of them stayed with the different military or other branches.
- According to sources, they were not compiled or printed centrally at the Ministry of Defence.
- According to the policy, each Ministry of Defence organisation, such as the Services, Integrated Defence Staff, Assam Rifles, and Indian Coast Guard, will transfer their records.
- These would include war diaries, letters of proceedings, and operational record books.
- It would be transferred to the Ministry of Defence’s History Division for proper upkeep, archival, and writing of histories.
- According to the Public Record Act 1993 and the Public Record Rules 1997, as revised from time to time, it is the obligation of the respective organisations to declassify records.
- While gathering, requesting approval, and publishing war/operations history, the History Division will be responsible for coordinating with other departments.
- For the creation of war/operations history, the policy mandates the formation of a committee chaired by the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Defense .
- The committee consisted of representatives from the Services, MEA, MHA, and other organisations, as well as notable military historians (if required).
World Blood Donor Day
Every year on June 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World Blood Donor Day. The event’s goal is to increase global awareness about the importance of safe blood and blood products for transfusion.
On this day, the global health community joins together to remind the general public of the vital contribution that unpaid, volunteer blood donors provide to their individual health systems. The importance of blood donation has been highlighted once again in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
- The 14th of June is World Blood Donor Day, which commemorates Karl Landsteiner’s birthday. On June 14, 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) established and announced World Health Day.
- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was established with the purpose of increasing global awareness of the need of healthy persons giving blood safely.
- WHO and its 192 member states established Blood Donor Day in May 2005 at the 58th World Health Assembly to encourage all nations to recognise blood donors for their selfless efforts in saving people’s lives.
- This year, the WHO has coined the slogan “Give blood, keep the world beating” to commemorate the tremendous service provided by blood donors all over the world.
- This crucial endeavour during a medical emergency emphasises the critical importance of well-organized, dedicated voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors in guaranteeing a safe and sufficient blood supply in both normal and emergency situations.
- After The Lancet published the results of the RECOVERY clinical study, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry removed the use of convalescent plasma for Covid-19 from their clinical treatment protocols last month.
- Despite limited mobility and other hurdles, blood donors in several countries, particularly India, have continued to donate blood and plasma to patients affected by the pandemic.
- Patients with other life-threatening medical illnesses, such as thalassemia, anaemia, and blood cancers, require this important medical treatment at a time like this.
- Because postpartum haemorrhage is one of the most common preventable causes of maternal death, blood shortages also impact women during childbirth.
Noted Kannada poet Siddalingaiah passes away
Siddalingaiah, a well-known Kannada poet, writer, and Dalit activist, died of Covid-19-related illness. He was known as “Dalita Kavi” and was one of Karnataka’s first prominent Dalit poets.
He is credited with founding the Dalit-Bandaya literary movement and the Dalit literature genre in Kannada. He was also a founding member of the state’s Dalit Sangharsh Samiti.
- Siddalingaiah was a Dalit activist, poet, playwright, essayist, and one of the founders of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti.
- Holemadigara Haadu, Saaviraaru Nadigalu, Kappu Kaadina Haadu, and Meravanige are only a few of his outstanding works.
- He wrote plays like Panchama and Ekalavya, and Grama Devathe Galu was one of his most popular essays.
- Several of his books have been translated into English and other languages, and he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his autobiography Ooru Keri.
- Siddalingaiah has also received the Pampa Award, Kannada’s highest literary honour, the Nadoja Award from Hampi University, and the Rajyotsava Award, among other honours.
- In Shravanabelagola, he also presided over the 81st Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (a renowned assembly of Kannada literature).
- He was also a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council and the Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, a Cabinet-level position, as well as a Kannada professor at Bangalore University.
- His death was condoned by many political leaders including the Prime Minister of India.
Dalit Bandaya Literary Movement
- In 1974, D. R. Nagaraj and Shudra Shrinivas founded the Bandaya movement, a progressive [rebel] literary movement in Kannada.
- It aimed to make poetry a weapon against social and economic injustice by promoting socially conscious literature.
- “Allow poetry to be a weapon! The kind buddy who answers people’s distress!”
- D.R. Nagaraj coined the motto for the movement, “Khadga Vaagali kavya! Janara novige midiva pranamitra!”
- Siddalingaiah, Chandrashekhar Patil, Chennanna Valikar, Kalegowda Nagavar, Poornachandra Tejaswi, H.S. Shivaprakash, B.T. Lalitha Naik, Kum. Veerabhadrappa, and Baraguru Ramachandrappa are among the prominent Kannada writers who are affiliated with the movement.
Patiala to host Indian Grand Prix 4
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) today confirmed that the Indian Grand Prix 4 will be held on June 21 in Patiala, giving star sprinters Hima Das and Dutee Chand one more local event in their quest to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The decision to hold the fourth season of the Indian Grand Prix came after the AFI’s attempts to send a 40-member squad to events in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which included Hima and Dutee, were unsuccessful owing to “changing quarantine restrictions” in those countries.
- The AFI will also conduct the National Inter-State Athletics Championships from June 25 at the same venue.
- Hima and Dutee, who have yet to qualify for the Olympics, were supposed to compete in the 4x100m women’s relay squad that had been scheduled to compete in the two Central Asian countries.
- Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’s national federations told the AFI through e-mail that more restrictive restrictions mandating 14-day isolation for people travelling from India.
- It had been ordered, regardless of a negative RT-PCR test or even a vaccination certificate.
- Men’s events include the 400m, 1500m, long jump, triple jump, shot put, javelin throw, and 400m hurdles, while women’s events include the 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m, discus throw, javelin throw, and 4x100m relay.
- Ten athletes have qualified for the Olympics, including renowned javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, and the mixed 4x400m relay team, which will compete on July 23.
- Other Olympians include Shivpal Singh (men’s javelin throw), M Sreeshankar (men’s long jump), Avinash Sable (men’s 3000m steeplechase), KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar, and Rahul Rohila (men’s race walk), Bhawna Jat and Priyanka Goswami (women’s race walk), Bhawna Jat and Priyanka.