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18th January – Prelims Booster

India to invite Imran Khan for Shanghai Council meet

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will be invited to participate in the Heads of Government Council meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that will be hosted in India this year.

Details –

  • Since becoming full-time member of the SCO in 2017, both India and Pakistan have participated in multiple meetings of SCO and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) despite hostilities and tension in Kashmir.
  • The Heads of Government Council meeting is attended by the Prime Minister-level leaders of the member states that deliberate on the regional body’s economic and other pressing issues.

About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation –

  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation.
  • It’s a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
  • It was created in 2001.
  • Prior to the creation of SCO in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five (1996).
  • Following the accession of Uzbekistan to the organisation in 2001, the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO.
  • The SCO Charter was signed in 2002, and entered into force in 2003.
  • The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.
  • India and Pakistan became members in 2017. 

34,000 Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

Union Home Minister Amit Shah presided over the signing of a quadripartite pact of the MHA with the State governments of Tripura, Mizoram and leaders of Bru community to permanently settle around 34,000 internally displaced Bru people in Tripura.

Why?

Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram. Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area, when they demanded creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.

Who are ‘Brus’?

  • Reang or Bru  are one of the 21 scheduled tribes of the Indian state of Tripura.
  • The Bru are the second most populous tribe of Tripura after the Tripuris.
  • The correct nomenclature for this ethnic group is actually Bru although the name Reang was accidentally incorporated by the Indian government during a census count.
  • The Bru can be found all over the Tripura state in India.
  • However, they may also be found in Mizoram, Assam, Manipur and Bangladesh.

Culture and religion –

  • The marriage system is similar to other Tripuri tribes of Tripura.
  • There is no dowry system.
  • Dance is an integral part of Reang life.
  • The Hojagiri folk dance of Riang sub tribe is rather well known all over the world.
  • ‘Buisu’ is the most popular festival of reang tribes.
  • The majority of the Reang belong to the Vaishnav school of Hinduism and claim Kshatriya status.
  • They are polytheists and believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses.

No SC relief, telcos have to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has dismissed the petitions filed by telecom companies for a review of its October 2019 judgement upholding the recovery of past dues amounting Rs 1.47 lakh crore from them.

Context –

The recovery by the government was based on adjusted gross revenue of about Rs 92,000 crore.

About AGR –

  • Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.
  • As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales. Telcos, on their part, insist that AGR should comprise only the revenues generated from telecom services.

Supreme Court Judgement –

  • The Supreme Court has upheld the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) calculation as stipulated by the Department of Telecommunications.
  • This means that telecom companies will have to pay up as much as Rs 92,642 crore to the government, more than half of which are owed by Airtel and Vodafone.
  • Terming the issues raised by telcos with respect to AGR as ‘frivolous’, the SC held that not only the original charges, but principal interest and penalties on delayed payments would also be payable.

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