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  1. BRICS Disaster Risk Reduction meet adopts Udaipur Declaration.

The BRICS Countries on 23 August 2016 adopted the Udaipur Declaration during the second meeting of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) Ministers for Disaster Management in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

The aim behind the adoption of the Udaipur Declaration is to  set up a Joint Task Force for disaster risk management for regular dialogue, exchange, mutual support and collaboration among BRICS Countries.


Highlights of the Joint Task Force for disaster risk management

  • The Joint Task Force shall consist of one representative from each BRICS country and will be chaired by rotation by the representative of the country holding chairmanship of BRICS during that year.
  • It shall meet on the sidelines of the meeting of the BRICS Ministers for disaster management and may also hold additional meetings as necessary, including through video conferencing.


Joint Action Plan (JAP) for BRICS emergency services (2016-18)

  • During the meeting, the countries also finalised the roadmap for implementation of the three-year Joint Action Plan (JAP) for BRICS emergency services (2016-18).
  • The JAP was agreed upon at the first meeting of BRICS Ministers for Disaster Management at St. Petersburg in Russia in 2016 itself.
  • Through JAP, the countries will work together on exchange of Information on disaster management, research & technology exchange on forecasting and early warning for floods.


Moreover, a technical session on Disaster risk in a changing climate was also held. The session focused on emerging disaster risks as a result of climate change and evolving practices in the area of Disaster Risk Management.

The 8th BRICS Summit will be hosted by India, the current BRICS chair, in Goa in October 2016.


2. Union Government, US sign MoU for cooperation in the field of traditional medicines.

The Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) and the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) on 24 August 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for co-operation in traditional medicine.

The MoU was signed by Rajiv Kumar Sharma, Director of PCIM & H and Dr KV Surendra Nath, Senior Vice President, Global Sites, USP.


Highlights of the MoU

  • It aims at collaborating, identifying, and development and dissemination of science-based standards in medicines field.
  • It will promote the safety, quality and integrity of traditional medicines and botanical dietary supplements.
  • It will improve public health in India, US and worldwide by working together to increase awareness and understanding of traditional and herbal medicines, botanical dietary supplements and their products.
  • It will help to harmonize the Pharmacopeia in terms of international conventions.


About Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy (PCIM&H)

  • The PCIM&H comes under the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddhant and Homeopathy) Ministry.
  • It is an autonomous organisation with a primary mandate to develop pharmacopoeial standards for drugs and formulations used under AYUSH.

On the other hand, United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a global health organisation and its public standards provide scientifically validated test methods and cover over 250 botanical ingredients and dosage forms including ashwagandha, turmeric, turmeric extract and others.


  1. Union Cabinet approves revised Indo-Cyprus DTAA.

Union Cabinet on 24 August 2016 approved the signing of an agreement and the protocol between the India and Cyprus for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.

The approval will help India in its fight against tax evasion, round tripping and base erosion/profit shifting.

The approval will replace the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) that was signed between the two nations on 13 June 1994. With the revision of the treaty now approved by the Cabinet, capital gains will be taxed in India for entities resident in Cyprus, subject to double tax relief. In other words, India will have the right to tax capital gains arising in India.

Provisions of the proposed DTAA

  • It will align the applicable provisions with the consistent policy followed by India and the revised international standards.
  • It will also prevent the abuse of beneficial provisions of the DTAA that can distort financial and real investment flows and create challenges in respect of tax collection.
  • It provides for source based taxation of capital gains on transfer of shares, instead of residence based taxation as provided in the existing DTAA.
  • The proposed DTAA also enables source based taxation of capital gains from transfer of shares of any company the property of which consists directly or indirectly principally of immovable property situated in a Contracting State.
  • It includes a provision for Assistance in Collection of Taxes.
  • It also provides for a revised provision for Exchange of Information that would enable the use of information exchanged for other purposes, with the permission of the Competent Authority of the country providing the information.
  • It expands the scope of the Permanent Establishments (PE) that enables source based taxation of business income.
  • The provision on income from Shipping and Aircrafts has been aligned with International standards in the proposed DTAA.
  • Other provisions, including the provisions on Royalty, Fees for Technical Services, Artists and Sportspersons, Other Income, Mutual Agreement Procedure, Exchange of Information and definitions of relevant terms like Resident, Business Profits, Associated Enterprises, Dividend, Interest, have also been aligned with India’s consistent policy and International Standards accepted by India.
  • The protocol to the agreement provides clarification about taxation of dividends in India that are subjected to dividend distribution tax.
  • It clarifies that provisions on Assistance in Collection of Taxes shall not be construed to impose any obligation that is at variance with the laws, practices or public policy of a Contracting State.
  • It clarifies that Article 24 on Non Discrimination will not be construed as preventing a Contracting State from charging the profits of a permanent establishment at a rate which is higher than that imposed on a domestic company.

However, the Protocol to the Agreement provides that the provisions of the proposed DTAA in respect of capital gains will not be applicable on shares acquired at any time prior to 1 April 2017.

The DTAA will enter into force on the date of the notification by the two countries (date of later notification), and shall have effect in India from 1 April 2017. The existing DTAA shall be terminated on the day the proposed DTAA comes into effect.

This step follows the recent amendment of DTAA with Mauritius. As in the case of Mauritius, the treaty with Cyprus had provided for residence-based taxation of capital gains.

The provisions in the earlier treaty for residence-based taxation were leading to distortion of financial and real investment flows by artificial diversion of various investments from their true countries of origin, for the sake of avoiding tax. As in the case of Mauritius, this amendment will deter such activities.


  1. Union Government launches ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’ an e-Library for Persons with print Disabilities.

Union Government on 24 August 2016 launched Accessible E-Library ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’ for Divyang under Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan). The e-library was jointly launched by Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar and Thawar Chand Gehlot.

Sugamya Pustakalaya is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. It houses more than 2 lakh books in diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.

The e-library was created by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with member organizations of Daisy Forum of India and powered by TCS Access.

Accessible India Campaign

The Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) was launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). The initiative is in line with the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is a signatory from 2007.

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