Current Affairs India - 26 September 2013

1. The Raghuram Rajan panel report has made a case for ending the 'special category' criteria for providing additional assistance to poorer states, as it ranked Goa and Kerala as the most advanced state and Odisha and Bihar the least. The committee, headed by the then Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan (now RBI governor) which was set up by the government amid demand for "special category" status by Bihar, suggested a new methodology for devolving funds on states based on a 'Multi Dimensional Index (MDI)'.  The committee has suggested that the 28 states be split into three categories -- least developed, less developed and relatively developed -- depending upon their MDI scores.

Based on the MDI scores, the 10 least developed states are Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.  The 7 most developed status are Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttrakhand and Haryana.

2. The prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards for 2013, recognising achievements of young scientists and engineers, were announced today. The prize, given by Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will be awarded to eight scientists from seven disciplines. This year's awardees include Dr Sathees Chukkurumbal Raghavan (Biological Sciences) from IISc Bangalore, Dr Yamuna Krishnan (Chemical Science) from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Mumbai, Dr Bikramjit Basu from IISc and Dr Suman Chakraborty from IIT Kharagpur (both from Engineering Sciences), Dr Eknath Ghate (Mathematical Science) from TIFR, Dr Amol Dighe from TIFR and Dr Vijay Balakrishna Shenoy from IISc (Physical Science).

However, there is no recipient in the category of Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean & Planetary Sciences. The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize is the most coveted national recognition for young scientists and engineers for their research and development work done in India.

3. The Finance Ministry has notified the much awaited the General Anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) that are intended to check tax avoidance without ruffling the feathers of the foreign investors. The rules, which will come into force from April 1, 2016, are in keeping with the assurance given by the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in January. Non-resident investors in Foreign institutional investors (FII) have been kept out of GAAR. Also, the GAAR rules will not apply to FIIs that choose not to take any treaty benefits under the income tax law.

4. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has given its no objection certification (NOC) to AirAsia India to start a low-cost carrier today. The next step for AirAsia will be to get an Air Operating Permit and prepare to kick-start its operations in India. AirAsia now needs to get its various operations manual, including the airline operations manual and airport manual cleared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation before the AOP is given.