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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 December 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 December 2016


Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Sustainable expansion: APAC nations to adopt Urban Plus approach


The Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development has adopted the New Delhi declaration. The declaration was adopted at the culmination of a three-day dialogue by the member nations of the Asia-Pacific region, which together account for more than half of the global urban population.



This was the first such meeting held to discuss ways of realising the New Urban Agenda that was finalised during the United Nations-Habitat III conference in Quito in October 2016. The declaration that was released at the end of the conference, hosted by India this year, will be reviewed at the next biennial Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development which will be hosted by Iran two years later.


What is Urban plus approach?

This approach will address ways to make urban expansion sustainable and manageable. This would mean an emphasis on planning for urban and its adjoining peri-urban and rural areas in an integrated manner.


About the New Delhi Declaration:

  • It is a global document and it will be localised as per the specific needs of the region and the country.
  • The declaration also stresses on the need to review existing policies and draft new ones that will take forward the aims of the New Urban Agenda.
  • It also looks at integration of land use and transportation planning, community participation in urban planning and service delivery.
  • Noting governance as the key to sustainable development, the Declaration stressed on the need for effective governance structures in urban areas.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 comes into force


The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 has come into force on 15th December, 2016. The government has also said that the Taxation and Investment Regime for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (the Scheme) introduced vide the said Act will commence on 17th December, 2016 and shall remain open for declarations up to 31st March, 2017.


The salient features of the Scheme are as under:

  • Declaration under the Scheme can be made by any person in respect of undisclosed income in the form of cash or deposits in an account with bank or post office or specified entity.
  • Tax @30% of the undisclosed income, surcharge @33% of tax and penalty @10% of such income is payable besides mandatory deposit of 25% of the undisclosed income in Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016. The deposits are interest free and have a lock-in period of four years.
  • The income declared under the Scheme shall not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income-tax Act for any assessment year.
  • The declarations made under the Scheme shall not be admissible as evidence under any Act (eg. Central Excise Act, Wealth-tax Act, Companies Act etc.). However, no immunity will be available under Criminal Acts mentioned in section 199-O of the Scheme.


Way ahead:

Non declaration of undisclosed cash or deposit in accounts under the Scheme will render such undisclosed income liable to tax, surcharge and cess totaling to 77.25% of such income, if declared in the return of income. In case the same is not shown in the return of income a further penalty @10% of tax shall also be levied followed by prosecution.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Centre Announces Notification of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2016


The Government has issued the notification for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2016. This is meant to regulate pet shops. The government has also invited suggestions.

  • The objective of these rules is to make pet shops accountable and to prevent cruelty inflicted on animals kept in such pet shops.



Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has the mandate to implement the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain, or suffering on animals.  The provisions of the PCA Act are general in nature, and rules dealing with specific situations have to be notified from time to time.


The proposed Rules provide as under:

  • It will be mandatory for all pet shop owners to register themselves with the State Animal Welfare Board of the respective State Governments/Union Territories.
  • Such shops will be registered only after inspection by the representatives of State Board, a veterinary practitioner and a representative of Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • The rules define space requirement for birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pig, hamster, rats and mice in the pet shops.
  • It defines the basic amenities, power back-up, general care, veterinary care and other operational requirement for animals kept in pet shops.
  • It is mandatory to maintain proper records of sale, purchase, death of animals in pet shop, sick animals etc.
  • Every pet shop owner is required to submit yearly report to the State Board regarding animals, sold, traded, bartered, brokered, given away, boarded or exhibited during previous year, or any other information asked for by the State Board.


Violation of Rules:

Non-compliance of the proposed rules will lead to cancellation of registration of pet shop and pet animals so confiscated, shall be handed over to an Animal Welfare Organisation, or a rescue centre recognised by the Board.

Sources: pib.


Paper 1 Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


IAF officers can’t grow beard, uniformity of personal appearance important: SC


The Supreme Court has ruled that Indian airmen can’t keep a beard as it is against their service rules. With this, the court has upheld the sacking of an Indian Air Force (IAF) man for keeping a long beard, saying military regulations were aimed at ensuring discipline and uniformity.



The ruling came while dismissing pleas filed by two Muslim personnel of the IAF. The Punjab and Haryana high court had dismissed their petition earlier.

Petitioners had challenged IAF’s “confidential” order of February 25, 2003, prohibiting Muslim personnel from keeping a beard. They contended that the order contravened a citizen’s fundamental rights.


Important observations made by the court:

  • Every member of the air force, while on duty, is required to wear the uniform and not display any sign or object which distinguishes one from another. Uniformity of personal appearance is quintessential to a cohesive, disciplined and coordinated functioning of an armed force. Therefore, the decision to prohibit personnel of a particular community from sporting a beard didn’t infringe upon their fundamental right to religion.
  • The court also said that as a combat force, the Airforce has to defend the nation and for its effectiveness, members must bond together by the sense of “espirit-de-corps”, without distinction of caste, creed or religion.


In the past, the court had observed that “Religion is a fundamental right in India under Article 25 of the Constitution. But it’s subject to public order, health, morality, and all other fundamental rights. Also, what are protected were only the basic tenets of a religion and not all incidental things.”

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


RBI opposes proposal to set up separate payments regulator


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opposed a move to establish a separate entity to regulate payments and settlements, a function that is currently under the central bank’s purview.



In September, the Centre had set up a 11-member committee on Digital Payments headed by Finance Secretary Ratan Watal. One of the panel’s terms of reference was to study and recommend changes in the regulatory mechanism under various acts such as the Payments and Settlement Act, the RBI Act, and the Information Technology Act among others.

The panel had recommended that the RBI will be the regulator for SIPS (systemically important payment system) and a separate board (Payments Regulatory Board) for retail payments will be created under RBI.


What the RBI says?

The global experience, by and large, has been that both the SIPS and retail payment systems are under the central bank for a variety of reasons including issues of inter-connectivity between the systems and the role of the central bank as the lender of last resort (LOLR). Therefore, a separate entity for this purpose should not be created.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


India’s first Humsafar train:

  • The Indian Railways has launched India’s first AC III tier Humsafar Express. The first Humsafar Express, with 16 AC III tier coaches and two power cars, would run between Anand Vihar in Ghaziabad to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Humsafar would be fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals. The announcement was made in the Railway Budget.
  • The train has been facilitated with numerous features meant to provide luxury to middle-class passengers such as CCTV, Global Positioning System (GPS)-based passenger information system, mobile and laptop charging points, integrated braille display for the visually impaired, smoke detection and suppression system and a high quality exterior and interior design among others.
  • The fares of the train are set to be higher than the regular AC III tier coaches as the cost of building one Humsafar coach is Rs2.58 crore as compared to Rs 2.39 crore of a regular AC III coach.


Majuli to be India’s first ever carbon neutral district:

  • Assam government has initiated a project to make river island Majuli the country’s first ever Carbon Neutral district by 2020.
  • The project titled ‘Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli’ (SACReD, Majuli) has been initiated by Assam’s department of Environment.Majuli map
  • The project, SACReD, Majuli has been initiated to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Mitigation through forestry activities and biodiversity conservation will be the starting points for the carbon neutral agenda followed by other interventions over the next three years.
  • The project will be designed and implemented in partnership with other departments of the district for which a district level committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner has been constituted.


Rio gets UNESCO world heritage status:

  • Rio de Janeiro, nicknamed the Marvellous City, has officially entered the UN’s list of world heritage sites in recognition of its soaring granite cliffs, urban rainforest and beaches.
  • UNESCO highlighted the “extraordinary fusion” of man-made and natural beauty in certifying Rio on the world heritage list.Rio de Janeiro
  • The UNESCO status was announced in 2012, but only became official after the Brazilian authorities were given four years to report on their plans for protecting the likes of Flamengo Park, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Corcovado, and the Copacabana beach.