Current Affairs Pocket : 19th December 2019

GST Council fixes 28% uniform tax rate for state and private lottery
* The 38th meeting of the GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, fixed a uniform tax rate of 28% on both state and private lotteries. However, Sitharaman said no direct or indirect suggestions regarding change of tax slabs were proposed during the meeting of the GST Council – the highest decision-making body of the new indirect tax regime. It also decided to rationalise the GST rate on woven and non-woven bags to 18%.
* The GST Council also decided to exempt upfront amount payable for long term lease of industrial and financial infrastructure plots by an entity having 20% or more ownership of Central or State Government.

India and US sign Mou defence tech transfer pact during 2+2 dialogue
* The dialogue will be focusing on the renewed efforts to take forward the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) to include light-weight arms, drone warfare, and virtual augmented reality. During a 2+2 dialogue held at Washington DC, the top foreign affairs and defence leaders on growing strategic relations between the world`s largest and most powerful democracies.
* India and the US have a common vision of a free, seamless and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. India has bought weapons worth more than $15 billion from the United States over the past decade as it seeks to replace its Russian-origin military and is in talks for helicopters, armed drones and a bigger Indian plan for local production of combat planes together worth billions of dollars.

Anti-hijacking exercise conducted off Kochi port
* A large-scale anti-hijacking exercise was conducted off the port of Kochi by the Navy, Coast Guard, the Cochin Port Trust. The Exercise code-named “Apharan” saw the participation of multiple agencies, including more than 12 ships and helicopters of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Cochin Port Trust.
* Apharan was aimed at streamlining the response mechanism/preparedness to thwart any attempt by anti-national elements to hijack a merchant’s vessel or attempt forced entry of a rogue/commandeered merchant vessel into the Kochi harbour.

Smriti Mandhana is the only Indian in ICC’s ODI and T20 Team Of The Year
* Indian opener Smriti Mandhana is the only Indian to have made it the International Cricket Council’s Women’s T20I and ODI Teams of the Year. She has Jhulan Goswami, Poonam Yadav and Shikha Pandey for the company in the ODI team of the year and all-rounder Deepti Sharma in the T20 side.
* Mandhana has played 51 ODIs and 66 T20Is for India, besides a couple of Test matches. She has combined tally of 3476 runs in T20Is and ODIs.

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