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Insights Daily Current Events, 14 December 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 14 December 2015


Topic: general awareness.

Dilip Kumar gets Padma Vibhushan award

Legendary actor Dilip Kumar was recently presented the Padma Vibhushan by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

  • Born as Muhammad Yousuf Khan in Peshawar, Dilip Kumar made his debut as an actor in the film Jwar Bhata in 1944 produced by Bombay Talkies.
  • In a career spanned over six decades, he starred in films of a variety of genres such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), the historical “Mughal-e-Azam” (1960) and the social Ganga Jamuna (1961).
  • The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Padma Vibhushan earlier this year, for his exceptional and distinguished contribution to the Indian cinema.

Padma Vibhushan:

It is one of the highest civilian Awards of the country. It was instituted in the year 1954. Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service (it is a second degree honour). The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

RCE-Tirupati to focus on Eastern Ghats

In a major boost to the sustainable development of the Eastern Ghats, with special focus on its fragile environment, the United Nations University has sanctioned a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) to Tirupati.

  • The RCE-Tirupati will be part of the Foundation for Environmentally Sustainable Development with Focus on health, education, awareness and livelihoods.
  • The project was cleared by Ubuntu Alliance of twelve agencies, including the UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University and the World Conservation Union (WCU).
  • The region initially selected for operation is the stretch comprising Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and Prakasam districts. While the former two are strewn with mountains, valleys, forests, plaints with agricultural land, the coastal districts are known for farmland, wetlands, shrimp farms and islands, involving a total population of 13.2 million.
  • The centre aims at capacity building in target groups such as schools and colleges and creating awareness among the forest, tribal and coastal communities on the importance of bio-resources, their judicious use and conservation.

Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE):

  • RCEs are acknowledged by the United Nations University (UNU) based on recommendations of the Ubuntu Committee of Peers for the RCEs, which consists of signatories of the Ubuntu Declaration signed in 2002.
  • RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate.
  • This is then accomplished by acting as a catalyst for institutions that promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) through formal, non-formal and informal education, and by providing suitable platforms to share information and experiences and to promote dialogue among regional stakeholders through partnerships for sustainable development.
  • RCEs also develop regional knowledge bases to support ESD and promote its goals in a resource effective manner. This can be achieved through the delivery of training programmes, by facilitating research into ESD, through public awareness raising, and by increasing the quality and access to ESD in the region.

Out of the 127 RCEs spread across the globe, there are only five in India viz., the RCE-Srinagar, working on western Himalayas, the RCE-Guwahati on Eastern Himalayas, the RCE-Chandigarh on wetland ecosystems, the RCE-TERI (Goa) on Youth empowerment and energy and the RCE-Kodagu on traditional knowledge and tribal communities of Wezstern Ghats. The RCE-Tirupati will work on a mix of features like Eastern Ghats, coastal communities, marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: statutory bodies.

CBDT ups monetary limit for court appeal by I-T

In order to cut down on frivolous litigation and taxpayers grievances, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued fresh directions revising the monetary threshold for the taxman to appeal at two important legal forums – Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and high courts.

  • The CBDT, which formulates policies for the income tax (I-T) department, has issued a fresh directive asking the department to go into appeal at the ITAT, only when the tax effect in question is Rs 10 lakh (from earlier Rs 4 lakh) and Rs 20 lakh (from earlier Rs 10 lakh) if the appeal is to be filed in a high court.
  • However, the monetary limit for filing appeals or Special Leave Petitions in the Supreme Court have been kept unchanged at Rs 25 lakh.

There are four essential forums under law which a taxpayer can approach against an I-T assessment order – beginning from the Commissioner of I-T (Appeals), ITAT, high court and finally, the apex court.

About CBDT:

The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.

  • The Board is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. It provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
  • It is India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
  • The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS), a premier civil service of India, whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.

sources: bs.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

SC nod to laws of Bihar, Odisha to seize assets of bureaucrats

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of two laws of Bihar and Odisha which allow confiscation of properties of the accused in corruption cases, including those occupying high public or political office.

  • The court has upheld the validity of Odisha Special Courts Act, 2006 and Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009, passed by the two state assemblies, which allow setting up of special courts and confiscation of properties, saying the laws do not violate constitutional provisions.
  • According to the court, establishment of Special Courts under these Acts were “not violative of Article 247 of the Constitution“. Article 247 deals with Power of Parliament to provide for the establishment of certain additional courts.
  • The court has also rejected the submission of petitioners that confiscation of properties before conviction was a pre-trial punishment. The court says that a confiscation, which is interim in nature, is not a punishment as envisaged in law and hence, it is difficult to accept the submission that it is a pre-trial punishment.    
  • The court has also rejected the contention that a special class was being created to try them which is violative of Article 14 of the constitution.          

The court also described corruption as a “national economic terror”.

sources: bs.


Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Give atomic regulator legal teeth: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has suggested the government embed in law the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) as an independent regulatory body.

  • In a report after an IAEA team recently visited India to review the country’s regulatory framework for nuclear safety, the agency recommended that the AERB review the implementation of its policies and existing arrangements to ensure its independence as a regulator.
  • IAEA has said that in order to ensure the independence of the regulatory body is clear and transparent the government should strengthen the legislative framework by creating in law the AERB as a regulatory body separated from entities having responsibilities or interests that could unduly influence its decision making.
  • According to the IAEA, the regulatory body should ensure that in its liaison with interested parties it has a clear separation from organisations or bodies that have been assigned responsibilities for facilities or activities or for their promotion.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

The IAEA is the world’s centre of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family.

  • It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • It is not under direct control of the UN. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
  • The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria.
  • The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide.
  • Currently, it has 164 member states.

sources: bs, iaea.


Paper 2 topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

TAPI project

Ground breaking ceremony of TAPI pipeline project was recently held in Turkmenistan. The function was attended by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

TAPI pipeline project:

  • The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline (TAPI) Project is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank.
  • It aims to export up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year through a proposed approximately 1,800-kilometer (km) pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
  • This project makes way for enhanced energy trading between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India
  • The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.

sources: toi.


Paper 3 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Historic Paris climate pact puts world on green path

Negotiators from 196 countries gathered in Paris have reached the world’s most significant agreement to address climate change since the issue first emerged as a major political priority decades ago.

  • The deal, known as the Paris Agreement, represents remarkable compromise after years of negotiations in which developing countries wrangled with their developed counterparts and failed to come to agreement on several key occasions.

Highlights of the agreement:

  • The agreement requires any country that ratifies it to act to stem its greenhouse gas emissions in the coming century, with the goal of peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and continuing the reductions as the century progresses.
  • Countries will have to aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C by 2100 with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.
  • The agreement also includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. This figure is expected to increase with time.
  • The agreement gives countries considerable leeway in determining how to cut their emissions but mandates that they report transparently on those efforts. Every five years nations will be required to assess their progress towards meeting their climate commitments and submit new plans to strengthen them. Some elements in the agreement are binding-like reporting requirements.

The agreement kicks off from 2020.

sources: the hindu.