City Buzz: Rail services will be unified | New crypto tax | Vaccine diplomacy

Different services of Indian Railways will soon be unified | Photo: Santulan Mahanta, Flickr, Generic Attribution 2.0 (CC BY 2.0)

No mandatory RT-PCR for foreign arrivals

On Feb. 9, the central government scrapped mandatory RT-PCR test requirements for travelers from other countries. The rule had been introduced due to the emergence of the Omicron variant and applied mainly to arrivals from “at risk” countries such as the UK, South Africa and Brazil, among others.

Recognizing now a decrease in the impact of COVID-19 around the world, the government felt it was necessary to revive economic activities while paying close attention to the changing trends of the virus. From February 14, fully vaccinated international travelers can enter the country without a negative RT-PCR report, but will be advised to watch for symptoms for 14 days. This option is only available for 72 countries whose vaccination programs are recognized by the Indian government.

In the absence of a vaccination certificate, travelers must complete an online self-declaration form (available on the Air Suvidha web portal) and declare their travel history for the past 14 days, as well as an RT report – Negative PCR performed 72 hours before to fly.

Source: NDTV


Read more: Is India nearing the end of the Omicron wave?


Center unifies eight existing rail services into one central service

The Ministry of Railways has issued a Gazette notification to unify eight of its existing services into a single combined Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS), which is categorized as “Central Group A Service”. In 2019, the Union cabinet announced a unified central rail service to end “departmentalism”.

The merger is based on the recommendation of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister

Indian Railway Engineers Service (IRSE), Indian Mechanical Engineers Service, Indian Electrical Engineers Service (IRSEE), Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS), Indian Signal Engineers Service (IRSSE ), Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) and Indian Railway Accounts Services (IRAS), will now be merged.

With this, the railways are left with only two other departments, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Medical Services Department (MSD).

Source: Hindustan Times

Cryptocurrencies sold on Indian exchanges will be subject to additional tax

The tax expenditures of several Indian crypto exchanges that sell cryptocurrencies from outside India will see a jump due to new guidelines on digital currencies announced in the latest union budget.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a 30% income tax on digital currency returns during her budget presentation. There will also be a 1% TDS on digital assets. But, since the government has officially only named digital currency in its rules, which do not mention “cryptocurrencies”, many exchanges are waiting for more clarity on TDS.

Source: The Times of India

Fog shrouds northwest India

On February 10, dense to very dense fog shrouded northwest India as minimum temperatures are expected to drop by two to four degrees Celsius in the coming days, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Visibility in Agra fell to zero, while in Gwalior it was 50 meters and 25 meters in the Gaya region of Bihar.

Rainfall in the northern plains, snowfall in the hills and a western disturbance on February 9 caused unusual weather patterns. Over Rajasthan was a western disturbance in the form of a trough (low pressure area line) which created a cyclonic circulation in the atmosphere. This brought light to moderate rainfall and snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad.

Source: Hindustan Times

a layer of fog over the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Heavy fog over Agra (representative image) | Photo: Mark Lehmkuhler, Flickr, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Measures to strengthen the vaccine partnership

The Quadrilateral Security Group, or Quad, on February 10 announced steps to strengthen the vaccine partnership, including delivery of the first batch of Quad-supported shots in the first half of 2022, and a global COVID action plan. -19 to facilitate the coordination of the recovery. efforts.

The Quad Vaccine Partnership was launched in March 2022 and reviewed by the Foreign Ministers of India, Australia, Japan and the United States. “We look forward to delivery of the first batch of Quad-backed vaccines in the first half of this year,” said a joint statement issued after the Quad ministerial meeting.

Already, the partnership has made “rapid progress in expanding vaccine production at Biological E Ltd’s facility in India, which aims to deliver at least 1 billion vaccines by the end of 2022,” says the press release. Quad members have provided more than 500 million doses worldwide, with pledges to donate more than 1.3 billion doses.

They will also train healthcare workers, combat vaccine hesitancy and increase infrastructure, especially cold chain systems, for “last mile” vaccine delivery.

Source: Hindustan Times

(Compiled by Saachi D’Souza)

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