Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 December 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
‘Mobile App and Facebook Page’ of ‘National Trust’
The government has launched the ‘Mobile App and Facebook Page’ of the National Trust to mark the ‘National Trust Foundation Day’ on the theme “Celebrating Inclusion”.
The National Trust Act for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities was passed in the Parliament on 30th December 1999. Thus-30th December- the Foundation Day of National Trust– is a day on which National Trust re-commits itself to the objectives set before it for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
About National Trust:
The National Trust is a Statutory Body under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
- The National Trust has been set up to discharge two basic duties – legal and welfare. Legal duties are discharged through Local Level Committee (LLC) set up at district level under the chairmanship of the District Collector / District Magistrate and providing legal guardianship. Welfare duty is discharged through the schemes and activities.
- The schemes and activities of the National Trust inter-alia include training, awareness and capacity building programmes and shelter, care giving and empowerment.
- The National Trust is implementing 10 schemes for overall development of persons with disabilities which have been revised and launched last year.
Paper 1 Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time
This year will have an extra leap second added to the end of it, making it slightly longer than 2015.
Why is it added?
The Earth’s rotation around its own axis is not regular, as sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down, due to various factors including the moon’s gravitational Earth-braking forces that often results in ocean tides. As a result, Astronomical Time (UT1) gradually falls out of synch with Atomic time (UTC), and as and when the difference between UTC and UT1 approaches 0.9 seconds, a “Leap Second” is added to UTC through Atomic clocks worldwide.
Leap seconds are needed to prevent civil time drifting away from Earth time. Although the drift is small — taking around a thousand years to accumulate a one-hour difference — if not corrected, it would eventually result in clocks showing midday before sunrise. Therefore, a “Leap Second” is added every now and then to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize clocks worldwide with the Earth’s ever slowing rotation.
- Since 1972, 36 “Leap Seconds” have been added at intervals varying from six months to seven years. 37th “Leap Second” will be added to UTC at the midnight of December 31, 2016 in the countries within this time zone. However, countries in other time zones will have “Leap Second” inserted according to their longitude.
- As the “Leap Second” is added simultaneously all over the world at UTC 23:59:59 on December 31, 2016, implying that in India the “Leap Second” will be inserted at IST 05:29:59 on January 1, 2017 (IST being five hours and thirty minutes ahead of UTC).
- The “Leap Second” adjustment is not so relevant for normal everyday life; however this shift is critical for applications requiring of time accuracies in the nanosecond e.g. astronomy, satellite navigation, communication networks etc.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending DTAA
India and Singapore have amended the double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, by signing a Third Protocol.
- This is in line with India’s treaty policy to prevent double non-taxation, curb revenue loss and check the menace of black money through automatic exchange of information, as reflected in India’s recently revised treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus and the joint declaration signed with Switzerland.
- The India-Singapore DTAA at present provides for residence based taxation of capital gains of shares in a company. The Third Protocol amends the DTAA with effect from 1st April, 2017 to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company. This will curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation and streamline the flow of investments.
- In order to provide certainty to investors, investments in shares made before 1st April, 2017 have been grandfathered subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause as per 2005 Protocol.
- Also, a two year transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019 has been provided during which capital gains on shares will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate, subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause.
- The Third Protocol also inserts provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitments under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet the minimum standard of providing Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases.
- The Third Protocol also enables application of domestic law and measures concerning prevention of tax avoidance or tax evasion.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Railways may bring in cess on tickets again
The Railways is planning to bring back a cess on tickets to finance its proposed Rs.1 lakh crore Rail Safety Fund after a rise in derailments this year.
The Railways had asked the Finance Ministry to sponsor almost 93% of the fund. However, the Finance Ministry agreed to contribute only 25% and asked it to raise the rest.
About the fund:
Recently, the Railway Ministry requested the Finance Ministry to create a non-lapsable safety fund named ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ worth Rs.1,19,183 crore.
- It asked the Finance Ministry to provide Rs.1,11,683 crore for safety improvement. However, despite multiple requests, it only agreed to give 25% of the amount.
- The fund is proposed to be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system, and safety work at level crossing, among other things.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Govt sets up high-level committee to review arbitration system in India
The law ministry has formed a 10-member panel led by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna to review and create an institutional framework for the arbitration mechanism in India. The committee will submit its report within 90 days.
- The committee includes judges, senior lawyers familiar with commercial laws, industry representatives and a member from a think-tank.
- The committee will make recommendations on various aspects of improving arbitration in the country, including encouraging use of arbitration for international commercial disputes, implementing the law to ensure speedier arbitrations, revision in institutional rules, role of arbitration in disputes where the central government is involved and evolving an efficient arbitration system for India.
- The committee has been asked to suggest road map for further strengthening of research and development impacting the domain and focus on the role of arbitrations in matters involving government of India including bilateral investment treaties (BIT) arbitrations.
Significance of this move:
With this, the government aims to make arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes. The move could also help improve India’s score in the World Bank’s doing business rankings. In the 2016 rankings, India stood at 130 out of 190 countries.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Power supply to Nepal:
- India is all set to Supply Additional 80 MW to Nepal from 1st January 2017. With this, the total supply of electricity to Nepal from India will be about 400 MW
- The power will be supplied to Nepal through the Muzaffarpur (India) – Dhalkebar (Nepal) transmission line.