News: The 73rd World Health Assembly will be conducted virtually due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
- The World Health Assembly(WHA) is the forum through which the World Health Organization(WHO) is governed by its 194 member states.
- It is the world’s highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states.
- The members of the WHA generally meet every year in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Functions: To determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.
News: As per the latest census conducted by West Bengal Forest Department, the tiger count in the Sundarbans for 2019-20 has gone up to 96 from 88 in 2018-19.
- Sundarbans: It is a vast contiguous mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal spread over India and Bangladesh on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
- The Sunderbans Delta is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers.
- Indian Sundarbans constitute over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area and was recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
- It is also the 27th Ramsar Site in India and is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
- It is home to rare and globally threatened species such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, vulnerable fishing cat and Endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
News: According to a study, ACE-2 enzymes are responsible for why men seem to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women.
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2(ACE2) is an enzyme molecule that connects the inside of our cells to the outside via the cell membrane.
- The enzyme is found in our lungs, heart, intestines, blood vessels and muscles.
- The enzyme essentially acts as a port of entry that allows the coronavirus to invade our cells and replicate.
- Since men have higher concentrations of ACE2 compared to women, they are more vulnerable to coronavirus.
News: Geographical Indication Registry of India has accorded Geographical Indication(GI) tag to Thanjavur Netti and Arumbavur Wood carving from Tamil Nadu.
- Thanjavur Netti Works (Thanjavur Pith Work) is made from Netti (pith) from a marshy plant called as Aeschynomene Aspera.
- This is a traditional art form and has been transferred from one generation to the next.
- The pith work models are delicate to handle and are usually preserved inside glass boxes.
- The notable works include Brihadeeswara Temple, Hindu Idols, door hangings and decorative pieces.The government has also recognised the pith work industry as one of the major handicraft symbols.
Arumbavur Wood Carving:
- Arumbavur wood carvings are sculptures primarily made out of the wooden logs of Mango, Lingam tree, Indian Ash tree, Rosewood, Neem tree.
- The wood supply comes from the Pachamalai Hills along the Trichy – Perambalur boundary and the Thanjavur – Kumbakonam zone.
- It’s work revolves around idols and deities, temple chariots and temple cars, door panels of houses, pooja rooms and temples, decorative figures and pooja mandapam.
- Uniqueness:The entire design carved is made out of a single block of wood given that a single error could damage the entire piece.
News: According to India Ratings and Research, due to lockdown 21 major States will suffer a collective revenue loss of about ₹ 97,100 crore for the month of April alone.
States Sources of Income:The States revenue mainly comes from following heads:
- State Goods and Services Tax(SGST): It is a destination based tax on consumption of goods and services.It has come into force since 1st July 2017.
- Share in Central Taxes: Article 280 of the Indian Constitution requires the composition of the Finance Commission in every five years so that the states can get a reasonable part in the tax revenue of the union government.
- State VAT on petroleum products: Value added tax(VAT) is a consumption tax placed on a product whenever value is added at each stage of the supply chain from production to the point of sale.Although, GST has replaced VAT on most goods, some goods such as petroleum are still not covered under GST.
- State excise duty on liquor: Excise Duty is levied on goods manufactured in India and are meant for domestic consumption.Many of the excise duties have been subsumed under GST.However, few items such as liquor are kept out.
- Stamp Duty: It is a state levy paid to register a document, typically an agreement or transaction paper between two or more parties with the registrar.It is not uniform across states and varies for different types of documents.
- Motor Vehicle tax, Tax and duty on electricity and
- Non-Tax revenue: It is the recurring income earned by the government from sources other than taxes.It becomes payable only when services offered by the government are availed of such as police services, electricity, municipal services among others.
News: Union Finance Minister has announced the first tranche of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key Features of the Package:
- Real Estate:The deadline for completion of projects has been extended by up to six months treating the coronavirus outbreak as an event of ‘force majeure’ under the realty law RERA.
- Force majeure refers to extraordinary events and circumstances beyond human control.
- It is included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restrict participants from fulfilling obligations.
- Income Tax: Tax Deducted at Source(TDS) and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) have been reduced by 25% till 31st March of next year.
- Employees Provident Fund(EPF):The statutory provident fund contribution by both employers and employees has been reduced to 10% of basic wages from the existing 12% for the next three months.
- Power distribution companies:Government will infuse liquidity of Rs 90,000 crore to the discoms that got affected due to COVID-19 crisis.
- Government will provide ₹3 lakh crore collateral free loan schemes for businesses especially micro, small and medium enterprises(MSMEs).
- Centre will facilitate provision of ₹20,000 crore as subordinate debt for 2 lakh MSMEs which are stressed or considered non-performing assets.
- E-market linkage and Fintech will be used to enhance transaction based lending using the data generated by the e-marketplace.
- The definition of an MSME is being expanded to allow for higher investment limits and the introduction of turnover-based criteria.
News: The Finance minister has provided relaxation to all private sector companies by reducing the statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee from 12% to 10% for the next three months.
Employees’ Provident Fund(EPF) Scheme:
- Employees Provident Fund (EPF): It is a retirement benefit scheme under the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
- Nodal Body: The fund is maintained and overseen by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation of India(EPFO).
- Eligibility: It covers every establishment in which 20 or more persons are employed and certain organisations are covered, subject to certain conditions and exemptions even if they employ less than 20 persons each.
- Under the scheme, employers and employees contribute 12% of an employee’s monthly salary (basic wages plus dearness allowance) to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.
- The employee gets a lump sum amount including self and employer’s contribution with interest on both on retirement.
Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO):
- It is a statutory body formed under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
- It is administered by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India.