Current Affairs September 2014

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Centenary Commemoration of Komagata Maru Incident begins

The commencement of the yearlong celebration commemorating the completion of 100 years after the Komagata Maru incident was undertaken by the Ministry of Culture in New Delhi.

Inaugural Function

Three granddaughters of Baba Gurdit Singh, the hero of the incident, were honored at the function inaugurating the beginning of the celebrations. A set of commemorative coins of Rs. 5 and Rs. 100 denominations were also released.

Celebrations

A National Implementation Committee has been constituted by the central government to finalise and decide on the programmes to be undertaken in the one year span. The programmes are believed to include national and international conference, publications, development of digital archives, making of movies and documentaries etc. An International Seminar titled ‘Komagata Maru: Context, Significance and Legacy’ is one of the proposals being considered. A week long function in Vancouver is also being planned. Efforts are being made to honour the descendants of the Indians involved in the incident and the Canadians who helped the cause financially or legally.

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Asiad 2014: Sania Mirza – Saketh Myneni Win Mixed-Doubles Gold

Second seeded Mirza and Myneni beat the top seeded Hsien Yin Peng and Hao Ching Chan of Chinese Taipei to win the gold in Mixed Doubles in tennis at the Asian Games in Incheon.

Three year streak

This is the third consecutive year that Sania has won in the mixed doubles category at the Asian Games. In the 2006 edition of the games, she won a gold with Leander Paes and in 2010, she won a silver paired with Vishnu Vardhan. Significantly this is Sania’s eighth Asian Games medal.

Maiden appearance

Myneni, on the other hand, made his maiden appearance at the Asian Games. Other than the gold with Sania, he also won the silver medal with Sanam Singh in the Men’s doubles category.

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Government cancels Nine SEZs

In a meeting of the Board of Approval on 29 September 2014, nine SEZs (Special Economic Zone) including those given to Hindalco, Adani, Essar etc have been cancelled because the projects have not made any satisfactory progress in terms of execution. Most of the developers have also been granted extensions, some of which have even expired. Any tax benefits or incentives given to the developers will now have to be refunded by them.

SEZ rules w.r.t validity and extension

Approval of an SEZ is valid only for three years. At least one unit of the project has to commence production within the span of three years. If at least one such unit if functional, the project is said to be operational. Provisions are in place for granting of extensions also, but an extension may be cancelled is no progress is shown by developers.

BoA (Board of Approval)

The BoA is an inter-ministerial body which is headed by the Commerce Secretary. Representatives of the states are also included in the BoA. Approvals and extensions to SEZs are granted by the BoA.

SEZ Policy in India

India was one of the first countries in India to introduce the EPZ (Export Processing Zone) model of promoting exports. The Kandla EPZ established in 1965 was the first EPZ in Asia. With a view to overcome multiplicity of regulatory clearances, lack of infrastructure and promote flow of foreign investment into India, the SEZ Policy was introduced in 2000.

SEZ Act

To further establish a stable mechanism whereby industries could be incentivized to generate employment and exports, the SEZ Act was passed in 2005. The Act exempts the profits generated in SEZ’s units from all taxes for 5 years, and the developers of the project are exempt from tax for 10 consecutive years in a block of 15 years.

SEZ Reforms

As of now, there are 192 operational SEZs in various parts of India, and 200+ approved SEZs that are yet to become operational. The Centre has expressed its intention to reform SEZs and has said that SEZs are an important part of India’s Foreign Trade Policy. It is considering initiatives such as modifying tax rules, especially those imposing MAT (Minimum Alternate Tax) and DDT (Dividend Distribution Tax), and allowing dual use of infrastructure in non-processing areas.

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