Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 November 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
The State of Kerala has become the third State overall and the largest State so far to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Gramin).
- With this, all 14 districts, 152 blocks, 940 Gram Panchayats and 2117 villages of the State have been declared free from open defecation.
- Freedom from open defecation has been proven to lead to significant health benefits in terms of incidences of water-borne diseases, especially in children, and provide safety and dignity for all, especially women and senior citizens.
- Previously, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh were declared ODF.
The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched in October 2014, consists of two sub-missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM-G), which will be implemented in rural areas, and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), which will be implemented in urban areas.
- SBM-G seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by 2019 through improving access to sanitation. It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.
- SBM-Gramin mainly focuses on ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction. The States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards: reducing open defecation, sustaining their open defecation-free status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas.
- The World Bank will also provide a $25-million technical assistance for building the capacity of select State governments.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
New CBDT chairman
Sushil Chandra has taken over as the new chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
- It 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 also India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
- The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS) whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Benami Property Transactions Prohibition Act comes into force
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August, has come into effect on November 1.
Highlights of the Act:
- The new law amends the 1988 Benami Transactions Act.
- The law provides for up to seven years’ imprisonment and fine for those indulging in such transactions.
- The amendments aim to strengthen the Act in terms of legal and administrative procedure.
- The law prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamdar by the real owner. As per the Act, properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the government, without payment of compensation.
- An appellate mechanism has been provided under the act, in the form of an adjudicating authority and appellate tribunal. According to the government, the four authorities who will conduct inquiries or investigations are the Initiating Officer, Approving Authority, Administrator and Adjudicating Authority.
What is benami transaction?
A benami transaction is one where a property is held by one person and the amount for it is paid by another person. Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
What isn’t a benami transaction?
- Property held under the name of spouse or child, for which the amount is being paid through a known source of income.
- A joint property with brother, sister or other relatives for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income.
- Property held by someone in a fiduciary capacity; that is, transaction involving a trustee and a beneficiary.
What falls under benami transaction?
Assets of any kind — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents. As such, even gold or financial securities could qualify to be benami.
How it affects the people?
It is being done to curb on black money. People with unaccounted income will sure have a tough time ahead. As for the general public, it won’t be much of an issue if their transactions are legal.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
After shutting liquor shops, Bihar seeks suggestions on prohibition
A month after implementing the new stringent Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016, Bihar government has invited the general public to provide feedback and suggestions regarding its provisions.
- The Supreme Court is to shortly hear a petition regarding prohibition in the State and the government is said to have taken this step to avoid any embarrassment.
The State government had implemented the new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 from October 2. Many people had termed the legal provisions of the new act as stringent and questioned. Some provisions in the new act were seen as impractical and draconian.
Over 18,000 people have been sent to jail so far for violating prohibition laws since April 5 this year, when prohibition came into effect in the state, and several lakh litres of liquor were seized.
About Bihar prohibition and excise act, 2016:
This is a new and more stringent liquor-ban law with provisions such as arrest of all adults in the family if anyone consumes or stores alcohol.
- It aims to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol, including Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), continues in Bihar.
- Those flouting the ban face up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and there is also a provision to confiscate the house or premises where liquor is stored or drunk.
- Though in a rare case, it also prescribes death penalty if people die after consuming hooch.
- Enforcement of the new law, calculated to impose prohibition in a holistic manner, would repeal the previous excise laws in the state.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
RCEP: Members worried about giving more market access to Chinese goods
The concerns of 15 Asia-Pacific nations including India, over agreeing to give greater market access to Chinese goods without gaining similarly in return, are likely to take centre-stage in the forthcoming ministerial meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
- Trade ministers of 16 countries are slated to meet on November 3-4 at Cebu, Philippines to take forward the FTA negotiations.
What is RCEP?
RCEP is the proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 16 Asia-Pacific countries including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-member ASEAN bloc.
What are the main concerns?
Many countries in the RCEP grouping are worried about agreeing to eliminate tariffs altogether, a move that will mainly help China.
Concerns of these RCEP countries also stem from fears of China dumping its excess capacity in several items including steel, as well as highly subsidised items, thereby harming the local industry in the importing countries and distorting trade in the process.
What’s being proposed by India?
India could put forward a two-tier proposal on goods that will treat China differently from the remaining RCEP countries. When compared to the treatment for other RCEP nations, this proposal on China will include a larger negative list (goods that will be protected from tariff cuts), and longer time-frame for reducing / eliminating tariffs on the remaining goods.
- This proposal will be different from the initial proposal of a three-tier system with a greater coverage of goods for the ASEAN bloc (with an 80% threshold — that included a combination of percentage of tariff lines and that of total RCEP imports), slightly lesser for Japan & Korea (65% threshold) and the least for China, Australia and New Zealand (42.5% threshold).
- India is of the view that any concessions for opening up goods trade can be finalised only if there are equivalent gains for it in services market access.
The proposed FTA, which aims to open up trade in goods and services as well as liberalise investment policies, will cover a market of over three billion people in these countries — whose total GDP is more than $17 trillion and account for 40 per cent of world trade.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Russia invites India to join fast reactor research project
Russia has invited India to join in developing nuclear reactors and participate in its fast reactor research project.
About the project:
The multipurpose fast research reactor project, also known as MBIR, is coming up at the International Research Center in Dimitrovgrad, located in the Ulyanovsk region. The purpose of the programme is the creation of a new technological platform for nuclear energy, which will be based on the closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors.
- The closed fuel cycle, which involves recycling the nuclear waste as new fuel, in the case of the MBIR project, essentially signifies research on a sodium-cooled Generation 4 fast reactor to design an advanced fast neutron reactor for use in nuclear power plants.
- “MBIR’s design includes three independent loops that can be used to test different coolants like gas, lead, molten salt, among others, and therefore it will be possible to conduct material testing research in those different environments.”
What is a fast neutron reactor?
A fast neutron reactor, also known simply as a fast reactor, is a type in which nuclear fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons. Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator.
Significance of fast neutron reactors:
With fast-neutron reactors, it is possible to solve the major ecological problem of reprocessing and deactivation of the accumulated radioactive waste, at the same time providing society much needed energy.
Also, transition to the closed fuel cycle, which is based on the fast neutron reactors, will lead to the solution of the five key problems — safety, competitiveness, shortage of fuel, reprocessing and refabricating the used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste — as well as in enforcing non-proliferation of fission materials and weapons technologies.
Sources: the hindu.