1. India ranked 130 in ease of doing business: World Bank
i. World Bank on 27 October 2015 announced that India ranked 130 out of the 189 countries surveyed in terms of ease of doing business for domestic firms. It was revealed in the report entitled Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency.
ii. As per the report, India could improve its ranking by 12 places from the 142nd position of the 2015 report by undertaking significant improvements in the regulatory framework for starting new businesses. The findings of the report were based on collection of data in Mumbai and Delhi between June 2014 and May 2015.
iii. India was placed at the 155th position overall in this segment. However, it is still one of the areas of greatest improvement for India, as the number of days to start a business was cut down to 29 days in 2015 from much longer 127 days in 2014.
iv. India showed very poor performance in this segment as it was placed at the 183rd position overall. India ranked overall 70 among the surveyed countries as now companies can get connected to the grid and get on with their business in 14 days sooner than before in Delhi and Mumbai.
2. Union Government constituted RV Easwar Committee to simplify The Income Tax Act, 1961
i. The Union Government on 27 October 2015 constituted RV Easwar Committee with a view to simplify the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The committee will be headed by Justice RV Easwar (Retd.), former Judge of Delhi High Court and former President of ITAT.
ii. The members of the committee are VK Bhasin, Vinod Jain, Rajiv Memani, Ravi Gupta, Mukesh Patel, Ajay Bahl, Pradip P. Shah, Arvind Modi and Dr. Vinay Kumar Singh.
iii. It was constituted to study and identify the provisions/phrases in the Act which are leading to litigation due to different interpretations and to study and identify the provisions which are impacting the ease of doing business;
iv. Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Committee was To study and identify the areas and provisions of the Act for simplification in the light of the existing jurisprudence and to suggest alternatives and modifications to the existing provisions and areas so identified to bring about predictability and certainty in tax laws without substantial impact on the tax base and revenue collection
3. 4th edition India, Sri Lanka bilateral naval exercise SLINEX 15 begins in Sri Lanka
i. The fourth edition of Sri Lanka-India bilateral naval exercise SLINEX 2015 began off Trincomalee coast, Sri Lanka. The six days exercise seeks to reinforce the strong neighbourly ties underscored by extensive maritime interaction and improved understanding between neighbouring both countries.
ii. SLINEX 15 seeks to enhance the capability of both navies to work together at sea and contribute towards maritime security in the region. It commenced with a Harbour Phase in which both participant navies were engaged in professional, cultural and social interactions.
iii. It will be followed by the Sea Phase in which complex operations including anti-piracy exercises, cross-deck helicopter operations, gun firings and anti-surface exercises will be undertaken. Indian Navy is represented by 2 missile corvettes viz. INS Kora, INS Kirpan and 1 offshore patrol vessel INS Savitri along with ship-borne integral helicopters. In addition, an Indian Naval maritime reconnaissance aircraft will also take part in the exercise.
iv. Sri Lankan Navy is represented by ships like Sayura, Sagara, Samudra, 6 Fast Attack Crafts, 1 Fast Missile Vessel and 2 Fast Gun Boats.
4. Sylvie Lucas appointed as Chair of the IGN on UNSC reforms
i. Luxembourg ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Sylvie Lucas on 27 October 2015 was appointed as the Chair of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on UN Security Council (UNSC) reforms. Lucas, who was appointed by 70th UN General Assembly session President Morgens Lykketoft, replaced Ambassador Courtenay Rattray of Jamaica.
ii. Her appointment came ahead of the next round of negotiations to begin on the UNSC reforms. Earlier, she served as the president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from January 2009 to January 2010.
iii. She started her career with Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she worked from 1990 to 1995. She served as the deputy permanent representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations from 1995 to 2000. On 25 August 2008, she became the United Nations' permanent representative from Luxembourg.
5. Union Finance Ministry launched E-Sahyog Pilot Project to facilitate Taxpayers
i. The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 27 October 2015 launched the e-Sahyog pilot project of the Income-Tax Department to facilitate taxpayers by reducing their need to physically appear before tax authorities. The e-Sahyog project is aimed at reducing compliance cost, especially for small taxpayers.
ii. The objective of e-Sahyog is to provide an online mechanism to resolve mismatches in Income-tax returns of those assesses whose returns have been selected for scrutiny, without visiting the Income Tax Office. The Income-Tax Department will provide an end to end e-service using SMS, e-mails to inform the tax assesses of the mismatch.
iii. The taxpayers will simply need to visit the e-filing portal and log in with their user-ID and password to view mismatch related information and submit online response on the issue. The responses submitted online by the taxpayers will be processed and if the response and other information are found satisfactory as per automated closure rules, the issue will be treated as closed. The taxpayers can check the updated status by logging in to the e-filing portal.
iv. The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also inaugurated a drive to provide public service at peoples’ door step by holding special PAN camps in remote areas. Under this campaign, special PAN camps were held at forty- three remote, semi urban and rural locations across India.
6. Barclays names former JP Morgan banker as new boss
i. Troubled British bank Barclays today announced the appointment of former JP Morgan investment banker James Staley as its new chief executive. The 58-year-old American will take up his new role on December 1, the bank announced in a statement, indicating a renewed focus on its investment division.
ii. Staley, also known as Jes, declared that he would seek to “preserve and enhance” trust in the lender, whose reputation has been badly damaged by foreign exchange and Libor benchmark interest rate rigging scandals.
iii. Staley, whose appointment had been widely predicted in the media this month, is the former chief executive of JP Morgan’s investment bank and currently works for US hedge fund Blue Mountain Capital Management. Barclays announced in July that it had fired its then—chief executive Antony Jenkins in the wake of recent scandals.
iv. The retail banking veteran had vowed to bring a new culture of decency to Barclays, and oversaw drastic restructuring that shrank its investment bank, a move that reportedly upset major shareholders.
7. Tata Trusts, Harvard University announce collaboration
i. Tata Trusts and Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) today announced collaboration on knowledge creation and capacity building for social and economic empowerment in India.
ii. A key component of the project is the opportunity for budding social entrepreneurs and institutions in India to apply for social innovation grants totalling Rs. 50 lakh that will spur interventions and scale up existing initiatives resulting in greater impact in select geographies.
iii. The 18-month research project titled ‘Livelihood Creation in India through Social Entrepreneurship and Skill Development’ is the first step in this direction, a statement from Tata Trusts said.
iv. The project will focus on three key areas: rural livelihood creation with emphasis on the handicrafts and handloom sectors, educational, social and economic empowerment of women and science and technology-based interventions for poverty alleviation.
v. The purpose of the project will be achieved through research with over 150 institutions across 15 states of India, five workshops with 100 participating NGOs, and 20 webinars involving Harvard faculty and subject experts from India.
8. Citibank appointed Samiran Chakraborty as Chief Economist for India
i. Citibank on 27 October 2015 announced that it has appointed Samiran Chakraborty as Chief Economist for India.
ii. Prior to joining Citi, Chakraborty was Managing Director and Head of Macro Research for South Asia at Standard Chartered Bank. Earlier, he served ICICI Bank as Chief Economist and Delhi School of Economics as faculty for mathematical economics and open-economy macroeconomics.
iii. He carries more than a decade of experience in conducting macro research, covering various asset classes including currency, interest rates and credit markets.
9. P K Gupta elevated as SBI Managing Director
i. K Gupta will be elevated as Managing Director of country's largest lender State Bank of India in place of Corporate Banking head P Pradeep Kumar, who is superannuating this month-end. Gupta, who is of Deputy Managing Director (DMD) rank, is presently Managing Director of the bank's investment banking arm SBI Caps.
ii. The appointment of the 1960-born Gupta is for a period of over four years (till March 2020), when he will be superannuating, Vijay Malhotra, according to a notification.
iii. Six officials from the bank were interviewed for the post last month and Gupta was the senior-most among them. Others included Varsha Purandare (DMD and Chief Credit Officer), Dinesh Khara (MD, SBI Mutual Fund) and Sunil Srivastava (DMD Corporate Services and New Business).
iv. The other three serving MDs at SBI are B Sriram (national banking group), V G Kannan (associates and subsidiaries) and Rajnish Kumar (compliance and risk).
10. ABIL, Versace to develop new project in South Mumbai
i. Pune-based realty developer ABIL (Avinash Bhosale Group) is partnering with Versace to develop a new exclusive residential project in Hughes Road, South Mumbai.
ii. The residences with interior design by Versace Home will be the first of its kind in India, offering a selection of apartments with bespoke interiors, created under the artistic direction of Donatella Versace.
iii. Established in 1979, ABIL has set up St. Regis Hotel in Mumbai, The Westin Pune, Le Meridien in Nagpur, W Retreat and Spa in Goa (under construction) and the Sun-n-Sand hotel in Pune. The Group has developed over 7.8 million square feet of residential and commercial property in Maharashtra and is developing approximately 14 million square feet of property across the State.
iv. The residences with the interior design by Versace Home offer the Versace lifestyle, as with the already completed Milano Residences in Manila, the Philippines and the Damac Tower in Beirut. Currently under construction are the Al Jawharah Damac Residences Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Versace Residences in Chengdu, China and the Aykon Nine Elms project in London, UK.
11. J&K to host South Asian Rugby 7’S Championship in 2016
i. Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Youth Services and Sports Molvi Imran Raza Ansari on 27 October 2015 announced that Kashmir Valley will host South Asian Rugby 7’S Championship in 2016.
ii. The decision was made during the 131st Standing Committee meeting of J-K State Sports Council, which was chaired by Ansari. As per the decision, the championship will be held at Bakhshi Stadium from 18 June to 20 June 2016.
iii. The Championship will be participated by eight teams consisting of 180 participants from various countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.
iv. The minister also said that the government wants such events to be held in the state for the promotion of sports activities at global level. He also said that the Council would provide all possible support to make the event a success and will provide various facilities like boarding, lodging and logistic for smooth conduct of the event.
12. IOC allowed refugees to compete in Olympics for the first time
i. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach on 26 October 2015 announced that all the highly qualified athletes who are refugees will be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. This is for the first time that refugee athletes will be competing in any Olympic Games.
ii. As per the announcement, all the eligible athletes will be able to compete for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
iii. The announcement was made during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting which adopted a resolution urging all countries to stop fighting and observe a truce during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Bach also appealed to all 193 UN member states to help the IOC identify talented refugee athletes.
iv. IOC has created a 2 million US dollars fund to bring hope through sport to refugees. Having no national anthem to play for them, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic Games with the IOC flag and the IOC anthem.
v. While participating in the 2016 Olympics, refugee athletes will stay in the Olympic Village alongside the other 11000 athletes from 206 national Olympic committees. Until now, qualified refugee athletes were not able to participate because they couldn't represent their home country and its national Olympic committee.