Today's Big Stories
GST Council Cuts Tax Rate on Hotel Room Tariffs; Caffeinated Drinks Expensive
After the 37th meeting of the GST Council, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said caffeinated beverages will be charged with 28% plus a 12% compensation cess in place of the current tax rate of 18%. This will bring them at par with the tax rate charged on aerated drinks. Also, aerated drink manufacturers have been excluded from the composition scheme and restrictions placed on refund of compensation cess on tobacco products. The Council, however, did not take a decision on cutting tax on automobiles and items like biscuits which had seen fall in sales on slowing consumption and demand.
EC to Announce Poll Dates for Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana
Dates for Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana will be announced by the Election Commission on Saturday afternoon. The Model Code of Conduct will come into force after the announcement of dates, which means the current state governments will not be able to make any fresh announcements or roll out new schemes.In 2014, EC had announced the dates for the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections on September 12. The voting had taken place on October 15 and results were announced on October 19. Follow updates here.
In Other News
Hopeful departure: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday expressed confidence that his visit to the US would present India as a vibrant land of opportunities, a reliable partner and a global leader before leaving for the US. Donald Trump's presence at the Houston event marks a new milestone, he added. He referred to Indo-US relations and said working together, the two nations can contribute to building a more peaceful, stable, secure, sustainable and prosperous world.
Outreach: US President Donald Trump will meet Pakistan PM Imran Khan a day after he joins PM Narendra Modi for the "Howdy Modi" event in Houston and will again hold a meeting with the Indian leader in New York on Tuesday. Both the meetings with the leaders of India and Pakistan would be held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
Chinmayanand case: The law student who has accused BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of rape has expressed unhappiness at “watered down” charges against him. He was arrested from his ashram and sent to 14-day judicial custody on Friday after the student threatened to set herself on fire if the authorities failed to take action against him.
Green wave: Thousands of protesters on Friday participated in worldwide demonstrations calling for action against climate change ahead of a UN summit in New York. In the US more than 800 events were planned, while in Germany, 400. In New Delhi, over 300 students and activists chanted slogans outside the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
Scathing attack: Only a Pulwama-like incident can change the sentiment of resentment against government ahead of polls, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday. He had also said that Modi had failed to understand his opinion on Pakistan, adding he was under the impression that the PMO provides accurate information to the prime minister but that is not the case now.
Bolstered Defences: US President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia's air and missile defences after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom's oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran. The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops - not numbering thousands - and would be primarily defensive in nature.
On Our Specials
Skeleton in the closet: A one-man inquiry commission headed by retired Madras High Court judge Aruna Jagadesan has prepared an interim report on the Thoothukudi violence that led to the loss of 13 lives and will soon submit the same to the Edappadi K Palaniswamy government. Mahalingam Ponnusamy and Poornima Murali report that sources privy to the developments said the commission has stated that after speaking to more than 300 witnesses in 14 sittings, it has been observed that midnight arrests of hundreds of people following the violence by police happened without proper evidence and due procedure.
Bold with a side of cautious: The decision to cut effective corporate tax to 25.17%, inclusive of all cess and surcharges, for domestic companies couldn’t have come at a better time for India Inc. Ravi Shanker Kapoor writes that this boldness is beautiful, for it is based on a sound economic principle: lower tax rates result in higher revenue collection. On the face of it, this appears mathematically impossible, but in the real economy a lower tax incidence boosts people to invest more which, in turn, increases economic activity, augments production, and creates jobs.
'Kung-Fu' Nuns are cycling: In 2015, when an earthquake hit Nepal, killing 9,000 people, women started to disappear. The survivors, who thought themselves lucky, soon found themselves without much choice, but to trust the promises of overseas work and education, turning many into victims of trafficking. This is when a bunch of nuns from a Buddhist nunnery in the western valley of Kathmandu decided to pick up their tools and start building homes and broken compound walls. Amid the chaos that followed Nepal’s biggest earthquake, the 'Kung Fu' nuns went door to door, educating families about trafficking and women empowerment. Our latest story in our #CoveringClimateNow series.
Mumbai’s lungs, its largest green cover – Aarey Forest - is under serious threat. Maximum City made headlines for several widespread protests to save the green patch amidst skyscrapers and concrete jungle that is gobbling up the city. From common citizens to Bollywood actors, Mumbaikars have been up in arms, to "Save Aarey". What are the protests all about and why are authorities adamant about their plans?