· Sophie Wilmes took office as the first female PM of Belgium
- Former Belgian Budget Minister Sophie Wilmes has taken office as the first female Prime Minister in the country’s 189-year history. She was named as the head of the country’s next caretaker government. She was sworn in by King Philippe. She succeeded in the liberal leader Charles Michel.
- She will become the president of the European Council on 1 December. Her role has been described as a poisoned chalice, as linguistically divided parties struggle to form a government.
- National Unity Day: 31 October
- The ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ or the National Unity Day is celebrated on October 31, which is the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
- He was an Indian politician who played an instrumental role in India’s struggle for independence.
- In 2014, it was decided that October 31 be celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
- Last year, the government unveiled the ‘Statue of Unity’, sculpted in his honour, in the state of Gujarat.
- The colossal statue of the First Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of independent India stands at a height of 182 metres and is the tallest in the world.
- India to adopt Brazil model of the human milk bank
- The Centre has set a target of ensuring at least 70 per cent infants to have access to breast milk by the year 2025.
- Target will subsequently be increased to 100 per cent.
- India has taken inspiration from Brazil’s success in the field of human milk bank decided to adopt a similar model in creating a wide network of human milk banks.
· DPIIT to introduce exercise to ease FDI norms
- The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) launched a new exercise to relax India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.The decision was made in an inter-ministerial meeting held at DPIIT to discuss further opening up in sectors, especially where 100% FDI is not allowed on the automatic route. Earlier, the government opened FDI in contract manufacturing and eased norms for overseas investors in single-brand retail and coal mining.
- FDI is prohibited innine sectorsnamely gambling and betting including casinos, lottery business, chit funds, trading in transferable development rights, real estate business or construction of farmhouses, Nidhi companies, manufacturing of cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes, atomic energy, and certain railway operations. India prohibits foreign technology collaboration in any form including licensing for franchise, trademark, brand name, management contract for lottery business and gambling and betting activities.
· Indian Railways to introduce OTP based refund system
- Indian Railways (IR)has introduced a newone-time password (OTP) based refund system for e-tickets booked through authorized railway ticketing agents. This new method will be implemented by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The new plan is applicable to those who booked the tickets through 1.7 lakh authorized agents.
- The OTP based refund systemaims to bring a transparent and customer-friendly refund system for the reserved e-tickets, which are cancelled or fully waitlisted dropped tickets.
· TN became the first state to enact a law on contract farming
- President Ram Nath Kovind approved the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2019. The Bill aims to set a policy framework and institutional mechanism on agricultural produce and livestock contract farming. With the Bill approved, TN state becomes the first state to enact the law on contract farming.
- The Bill was adopted by theTamil Nadu State governmentin February 2019. The Bill is first-of-its-kind legislation that assures farm income.
- Besides poultry, there was contract farming of sugarcane and herbs.But, until now, there was no law to ensure the welfare of the farmers involved in it. To benefit the marginal farmers, the Tamil Nadu state government came up with such legislation. It is also expected that Contract farming will also lead to a good understanding between farmers and farm-based industries.
- The Bill will provide protection to farmers or related groups to carry out a transaction of their farm or livestock production with a processing firm on the rate arrived at on the date of entering into the contract.
- The bill will provide protection to farmers from price fluctuations.