Current Affairs – August 2016

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Union Cabinet approves amendments in Central List of OBCs applicable to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for making suitable amendments in the Central List of OBCs (Other Backward Classes) applicable to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

This decision has been taken as per the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

Key Facts

  • The suitable amendments in the Central List of OBCs will be done by inclusion/deletion of castes/communities applicable to Andhra Pradesh and newly formed State of Telangana.
  • NCBC has recommended total of 35 changes in respect of Andhra Pradesh and also suggested 86 New Entries in respect of Telangana.
  • The changes will enable the persons belonging to these communities in both states to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services as well as in Central Educational Institutions.
  • Besides, these communities will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc. of the Union Government.

Background

  • The Section 9 (Functions of the Commission) of the NCBC Act, 1993 empowers NCBC to examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists.
  • In this regard, NCBC hears complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tenders such advice to the Union Government.
  • The NCBC Act, 1993 also stipulates that the advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Union Government.
  • So far based on recommendation of the NCBC a total of 2401 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc. in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 24 States and 6 Union Territories.

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Union Cabinet approves Spectrum Usage Charge for the spectrum in various bands

The Union Cabinet has approved the rates for Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) for various bands of spectrum for which auction are going to be conducted shortly.

With this approval the path is clear for issuance of the Notice Inviting Application (NIV) for spectrum auction by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). SUC is the charge that telecom firms have to pay the government every year. The Union Government earns about Rs.7,000 crore annually from it.

SUC prescribed by Cabinet

  • SUC in 700, 800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 & 2500 MHz band in the forthcoming auction will be charged at 3% rate of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). It excludes the revenue from wire-line services.
  • The weighted average will be derived by sum of product of spectrum holdings and applicable SUC rate divided by total spectrum holding.
  • The Weighted Average Rate will be determined operator wise for each service area. It will be assigned to an operator in all access spectrum bands obtained in 2010 auction.
  • The amount of SUC has been derived after taking into consideration the spectrum acquired in the coming auction.
  • It has excluded the spectrum in 2300/2500 MHz band acquired prior to 2015-16. It will be treated as the floor amount of the SUC to be paid by the operators.

Comment

This will facilitate to move to a transparent, simple and flat ad-valorem SUC regime in the telecom sector. It will be done in accordance with the law and avoid creative accounting to bypass the revenues. It is considered as step towards a uniform rate for all players.

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Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail passes away

The Egyptian-born Nobel-winning scientist Ahmed Zewail passed away in the United States. He was 70.

Mr Zewail had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his pioneering work in femtochemistry. He is the first Arab Scientist to win the Nobel Prize.

About Ahmed Zewail

  • Born on 26 February 1946 in Damanhur, Egypt.
  • He is famously known as the father of femtochemistry and was Science Advisor to US President Barack Obama.
  • He had received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in Chemistry from Alexandria University. He had completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • He was appointed as faculty at the California Institute of Technology in 1976. He became a naturalized citizen of US in 1982.
  • In 2013, he had joined the United Nations Scientific Advisory Board. He was prolific writer and had authored about 600 scientific articles and 16 books.
  • Awards and Honours: Egypt’s Order of the Grand Collar of the Nile, Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993), Othmer Gold Medal (2009), Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society.He was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2001

Femtochemistry: It is the area of physical chemistry that studies chemical reactions on extremely short timescales, approximately 10−15 seconds (one femtosecond).

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