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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-16th August 2023

In a First In India, Goa To Give Free IVF Treatment In Govt Hospital

In a significant stride towards accessible and affordable healthcare, Goa has emerged as the trailblazer among Indian states by introducing free In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

This groundbreaking initiative, coupled with assisted reproductive technology (ART) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), was officially inaugurated by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at the Goa Medical College (GMC) in Bambolim.

A Landmark for Healthcare: Goa Leads the Way

With this momentous development, Goa establishes itself as a trailblazer in healthcare services. Goa Medical College’s super-speciality block is now equipped to offer IVF treatment, responding to the needs of the community with compassion and innovation. Approximately 100 hopeful parents have already registered with GMC, eager to avail the IVF facility.

Addressing the Financial Burden

In India, the cost of IVF treatment has often been a significant deterrent for couples seeking fertility solutions. Depending on the hospital and the complexity of the IVF procedure, the expenses can range from Rs 70,000 to Rs 3 lakh per cycle. The financial burden often leaves many individuals and families grappling with limited options. The Goa government’s decision to offer free IVF treatment directly addresses this pressing concern, easing the financial strain on couples and expanding access to reproductive healthcare.

A Glimpse into the Fertility Landscape

The initiative comes at a time when the demand for fertility treatments is on a rapid rise in India. Ernst & Young’s Call to Action report highlights a remarkable 15-20% annual growth in the fertility business over the past five years. The nation witnesses between 250,000 to 300,000 IVF treatments annually, reflecting the increasing prevalence of fertility disorders.

Approximately 15% of Indian couples now grapple with infertility issues, affecting around 2.75 crore couples, a number projected to climb as sedentary lifestyles, stress, obesity, and other medical conditions become more pervasive.

Overcoming Barriers and Paving the Way Forward

While the demand for fertility treatments soars, access to these services remains a challenge for many, particularly those in the middle and lower income brackets. The prohibitive costs often lead couples to resort to high-interest personal loans, straining their financial stability. Moreover, the lack of transparent pricing leaves many patients in the dark about the overall cost of their treatment, leading to uncertainty and eventual stagnation.

A Comprehensive Overview of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

  • In Vitro Fertilization is utilized to address concerns related to fertility, anticipate genetic abnormalities, and aid in the process of conceiving a child.

  • IVF stands as the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. This method can involve using a couple’s own eggs and sperm, or it may incorporate reproductive materials—such as eggs, sperm, or embryos—from either a known or undisclosed donor.

  • During the IVF procedure, mature eggs are collected from the ovaries and then fertilized with sperm within a controlled laboratory setting.

  • A complete IVF cycle generally takes around three weeks, although there could be variations that extend the duration.

India’s First Long-Range Revolver ‘Prabal’ To Be Launched On August 18

In a significant stride towards indigenous manufacturing and innovation, the state-owned company Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL), based in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, is all set to unveil ‘Prabal‘, India’s first long-range revolver. The launch date is marked for August 18, ushering in a new era of personal defense firearms.

Revolutionizing Firearm Design: Prabal’s Unique Features

  • Designed and manufactured by AWEIL, this lightweight 32 bore revolver boasts an exceptional range, capable of accurately hitting targets up to 50 meters away. This remarkable range is more than double that of other revolvers currently in production, establishing Prabal as a frontrunner in the field of long-range handguns.

  • A remarkable feature that sets Prabal apart from its counterparts is the incorporation of a side swing cylinder. This innovative design element eliminates the need to fold the firearm for cartridge insertion, simplifying the reloading process and enhancing user convenience.

  • With a mere weight of 700 grams (excluding cartridges), a barrel length of 76 mm, and an overall length of 177.6 mm, Prabal is ergonomically designed for ease of use. Its trigger pull is designed to be effortless, enabling a wide range of individuals, including women, to handle it confidently.

Accessible and Compliant: Prabal’s Licensing and Availability

A key aspect of the Prabal revolver’s launch is its accessibility to civilians with the requisite license. As the booking window for Prabal opens on August 18, individuals can secure their own Prabal revolvers. This move not only boosts domestic manufacturing but also offers citizens a dependable tool for self-defense, reinforcing the importance of personal safety.

AWEIL: Pioneering Defense Manufacturing in India

  • Founded in 2021, Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) is a government-owned entity located in the Armapur locality of Kanpur.

  • Comprising eight factories from the former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), AWEIL plays a pivotal role in producing defense products for various applications.

  • With a focus on manufacturing small arms and artillery guns, AWEIL serves the needs of the Indian Armed Forces, foreign military entities, and domestic civilian markets.

  • The company’s exceptional capabilities are evident through its recent accomplishment—an order valued at Rs 6,000 crore to manufacture defense products, including 300 ‘Sarang’ cannons for the Indian Army and contracts totaling Rs 450 crore from European countries.

Centre appoints R Doraiswamy as LIC Managing Director

Government of India had appointed R. Doraiswamy as the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) managing director. He is currently executive director at the central office in Mumbai. He has been appointed as managing director of LIC in place of Mini Ipe with effect from the date of assumption of charge of office on or after September 1, 2023, and up to the date of his superannuation August 31, 2026, or until further orders, whichever is earlier, the national insurer said in a regulatory filing.

The Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB), the headhunter for directors of state-owned banks and financial institutions, had in June recommended the name of Mr. Doraiswamy as MD. The FSIB is headed by Bhanu Pratap Sharma, former secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). Other members of the headhunter are the Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises; IRDAI Chairman Debasish Panda, former LIC managing director Usha Sangwan, and former Oriental Insurance managing director A.V. Girija Kumar.

About the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is an Indian multinational public sector life insurance company headquartered in Mumbai. It is India’s largest insurance company as well as the largest institutional investor with total assets under management worth ₹45.7 trillion (US$570 billion) as of March 2023. It is under the ownership of Government of India and administrative control of the Ministry of Finance.

The Life Insurance Corporation of India was established on 1 September 1956, when the Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act, nationalising the insurance industry in India. Over 245 insurance companies and provident societies were merged together.[4][5]

LIC reported 290 million policyholders as of 2019, a total life fund of ₹28.3 trillion, and a total value of sold policies in the year 2018–19 of ₹21.4 million. The company also reported having settled 26 million claims in 2018–19. It ranked 98th on the 2022 Fortune Global 500 list with a revenue of ₹775,283 crore (equivalent to ₹8.2 trillion or US$100 billion in 2023) and a profit of ₹4,415 crore (equivalent to ₹47 billion or US$580 million in 2023).

Retail Inflation Surges to 15-Month High of 7.44% in July

In July, retail inflation in India experienced a significant upswing, reaching 7.44%, marking the highest rate since April 2022. This surge contrasts with the preceding four-month period of inflation below the central bank’s 6% tolerance threshold. The increase is largely attributed to an 11.5% spike in food prices, making it the first time since September 2022 that the price rise has crossed the 7% mark.

Food Price Surge Drives Overall Inflation:

Retail Inflation Surges to 15-Month High of 7.44% in July

The primary driver of the July inflation surge was an impressive 11.5% increase in food prices, causing a ripple effect on the overall inflation rate. Notably, vegetable prices surged by a staggering 37.3%, while cereals and pulses became over 13% more expensive. Consequently, urban consumers saw their food bills rise by over 12.3%, while rural consumers experienced an 11% increase in food inflation. On the whole, rural residents faced a slightly higher overall inflation rate of 7.63% for the same period.

Consumer Price Index and Food Price Dynamics:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 2.9% from the previous month, reflecting the swift inflationary pressures. The month-on-month increase in food prices was notable as well, with a 6.7% upsurge. These figures surpassed the expectations of most economists.

Implications for the Economy:

The sudden surge in inflation poses challenges for the central bank’s projections and policy decisions. The 7% inflation rate for two consecutive months raises questions about the possibility of triggering action from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Bank of Baroda’s chief economist, Madan Sabnavis, points out that while the probability of an interest rate hike remains low, it cannot be ruled out entirely.

Future Outlook and Monetary Policy:

While a slight reduction in tomato prices might offer some relief in August, other food items such as pulses, spices, milk, and cereals continue to be sources of concern. Additionally, the uncertain monsoon outlook for the coming month and the progress of crop sowing further contribute to the inflation narrative.

Interest rate adjustments are now under scrutiny, with rating agency ICRA expecting the earliest rate cut around the second quarter of 2024-25. This projection includes a “fairly shallow” rate cut cycle, anticipated to be around 50-75 basis points from the current levels. As one basis point equals 0.01%, such adjustments could have a measured impact on the broader economy.

India’s Per Capita Income Projected to Soar 7.5 Times by 2047, SBI Research Study Finds

India’s journey towards becoming a developed economy by 2047 has gained momentum, with a recent study conducted by SBI Research economists projecting a remarkable increase in per capita income. The study suggests that India’s per capita income is poised to surge by 7.5 times, from Rs 2 lakh ($2,500) in FY23 to Rs 14.9 lakh ($12,400) per annum by FY47. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized this objective, aiming to turn the vision of a developed India into a reality by 2047.

Positive Growth Trajectory

The study by SBI Research underscores the immense growth potential in India’s economy in the coming decades. This growth is attributed to several factors, including the country’s transition from a lower-income group to an upper-income group economy and the positive impact of tax buoyancy. Notably, the formalization of the economy through initiatives like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the UDYAM portal for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has played a pivotal role in enhancing income tax returns.

Tax Filers and Income Brackets

The study highlights a significant surge in the number of tax filers over the years. The number of tax filers has surged from 2.1 million in FY13 to a remarkable 85 million in FY23. Projections indicate that this number could reach an impressive 482 million by FY47. As a result, the proportion of the taxable workforce is anticipated to increase from 22.4% in FY23 to 85.3% by FY47. Moreover, the study predicts a notable decline in the number of individuals filing zero tax returns, indicating a shift towards higher income brackets.

Shifts in Income Brackets

An intriguing trend observed over the years is the shift in income brackets. Between FY11 and FY22, there has been a noticeable movement of individuals out of the lowest income group (below Rs 5 lakh) and into higher income brackets. Specifically, 13.6% of individuals moved out of the lowest bracket, with 8.1% entering the Rs 5-10 lakh group and 3.8% moving into the Rs 10-20 lakh bracket.

Regional Distribution and Migration

The study identifies that a significant proportion of tax returns, nearly half, are filed by individuals in five states: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. Migration also emerges as a contributing factor to economic growth. The study indicates that migrating populations have contributed between 0.5% to 2.5% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in various states. Furthermore, six states have benefited from net positive migration, with the overall advantages of migration outweighing any potential negative impacts on select states’ GSDP.

Govt Increases Windfall Tax on Crude Oil and Diesel, Reinstates Tax on Overseas ATF Shipments

In a recent development, the Indian government has decided to enhance the windfall profit tax on domestically produced crude oil and exported diesel. This decision is accompanied by the reintroduction of the tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) shipments abroad. These changes are being implemented through a special additional excise duty (SAED) mechanism, aimed at regulating profits derived from these energy sources.

Crude Oil Windfall Tax Raised

  1. Tax Hike Details: The government has made the decision to increase the special additional excise duty (SAED) on domestically produced crude oil. This tax, formerly set at ₹4,250 per tonne, has been raised to ₹7,100 per tonne, as per an official notification.

  2. Implementation Date: The new tax rates have taken effect from August 15, as indicated by the official order dated August 14.

Export of Diesel and ATF Subject to Higher Tax Rates

  1. Diesel Export Tax Increase: The SAED on exported diesel has seen a significant surge. It has risen from ₹1 per litre to ₹5.50 per litre, marking a notable change in taxation policy for this energy product.

  2. Introduction of ATF Levy: A new development in the taxation framework involves the imposition of a ₹2 per litre duty on the export of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), also known as jet fuel. This marks a departure from the absence of such a levy in the past.

  3. Tax Trigger Points: These enhanced taxes on diesel and ATF exports are activated when the product cracks (or margins) exceed $20 per barrel.

Background and Taxation Criteria

  1. Windfall Tax Initiation: India initially introduced windfall profit taxes on July 1 of the previous year, aligning with the global trend of levying taxes on energy companies’ supernormal profits.

  2. Crude Oil Windfall Tax: This tax applies to domestically produced crude oil when the global benchmark prices surpass $75 per barrel. The tax rates are recalibrated every two weeks based on the average oil prices in the preceding fortnight.

  3. Diesel, ATF, and Petrol Tax Criteria: The tax on exports of diesel, ATF, and petrol becomes applicable when the product cracks (margins) exceed $20 per barrel.

Market Dynamics and Tax Adjustments

  1. Oil Price Fluctuations: International crude oil prices have exhibited fluctuations. For instance, August witnessed an average price of $86.8 per barrel, up from $80.37 in the previous month and $74.93 in June.

  2. Levy Changes: The application of taxes on domestic crude oil, diesel, and ATF has shown variability based on the prevailing market conditions. The levy on domestic crude oil, for instance, was suspended during a period of falling global prices but was reinstated when rates increased.

  3. Export Tax Variation: Similar variations in tax applicability were observed for diesel and ATF. The levy on diesel was removed in April but reinstated in August. The levy on ATF was removed in March and reintroduced subsequently.

Key Industry Players

  1. Major Refinery Operators: Prominent players in the Indian fuel industry include Reliance Industries Limited, which operates the world’s largest single-location oil refinery complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat, and Nayara Energy, backed by Rosneft. These entities play a significant role in fuel production and exports within the country.

Windfall Tax: Regulating Profits in the Energy Sector

A windfall tax is a special tax imposed by governments on companies that generate unusually high profits due to favorable market conditions or exceptional circumstances. In the context of the energy sector, such a tax aims to prevent excessive profits and ensure a fair distribution of wealth.

Key Points:

  1. Purpose: Windfall taxes are introduced to capture exceptional profits generated by companies in specific industries, such as oil and gas. These profits often result from significant increases in commodity prices or sudden changes in market dynamics.

  2. Energy Sector: In the energy sector, windfall taxes are often levied on crude oil, natural gas, and related products. They are designed to mitigate the impact of soaring global oil prices and to ensure that both companies and governments share the benefits of resource windfalls.

  3. Criteria for Application: Windfall taxes are triggered when certain conditions are met. For example, in the case of crude oil, the tax might be imposed when global oil prices exceed a certain threshold, such as $75 per barrel.

  4. Tax Rates: The rates of windfall taxes can vary widely, depending on government policies and the specific circumstances. These taxes can be applied in the form of additional excise duties, royalties, or other mechanisms.

  5. Market Fluctuations: Windfall taxes are often dynamic and responsive to market conditions. They may be adjusted regularly, based on factors like average oil prices over a certain period.

Anwarul Haq Kakar Sworn In As Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister

Anwarul Haq Kakar, a prominent ethnic Pushtun leader with close ties to the influential military, has taken the oath as the country’s caretaker prime minister. With this appointment, Kakar is entrusted with the responsibility of heading an impartial administration, supervising the forthcoming general elections, and addressing the economic hurdles confronting the country.

Kakar is distinguished as the youngest interim Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan.

Anwarul Haq Kakar Sworn In as Pakistan’s 8th Interim Prime Minister

In a modest ceremony held at the President House, President Arif Alvi administered the oath to Anwarul Haq Kakar. The event was attended by outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and several prominent leaders. This moment marked Kakar’s elevation to the role of the 8th interim prime minister of Pakistan.

Kakar formally resigned from the Senate and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), solidifying his commitment to the neutrality demanded by his current position. The Senate chairman acknowledged Kakar’s resignation in accordance with the provisions outlined in clause (1) of Article 64 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar’s Background and Political Journey

  • Anwar ul Haq Kakar is an ethnic Pashtun and holds affiliation with the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

  • Kakar’s birthplace is the provincial capital, Quetta, and his entry into politics occurred at the beginning of the 21st century.

  • In a prior capacity, he served as the spokesperson for the Balochistan provincial administration in 2013, which provided him with valuable insights into regional governance.

  • Anwar ul Haq Kakar undertook the position of a Senator in the Pakistani Senate in March 2018. He secured his Senate seat as an independent candidate through general seat representation from Balochistan during the 2018 Pakistani Senate elections.

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